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Ocean Space Centre reaches a milestone

Trond Giske, the Minister of Trade and Industryspoke at the ceremony in the Marine Technology Centre in Trondheim.
On Wednesday December 5, 2012, the report “Quality Assurance Phase 1 (KS1 – Choice of Concept) of the Ocean Space Centre was published. The report has been written by Metier og Møreforsking Molde, which were engaged as the external quality assurers of the project by the Norwegian Ministry of Finance.

The report was handed over by Paul Torgersen, manager of social research at Metier, to Trond Giske, Minister of Trade and Industry, at a ceremony in the Marine Technology Centre in Trondheim. NTNU Rector Torbjørn Digernes and Unni Steinsmo, Chair of the Board of MARINTEK and President of SINTEF, were also at the meeting.

MARINTEK’s Board of Directors is pleased that the report of the Ministry of Finance’s external quality assurer has concluded that the proposed knowledge centre for ocean space technology will be “profitable in socio–economic terms”. The Board regards the KS1 report as a milestone in the Ocean Space Centre project, which has been under way since the Norwegian Storting debated the second Bondevik government’s Research White Paper in 2005.

The process of establishing the Centre now enters a new phase. The National Budget presented on October 8 2012 made it clear that “Once the KS1 (external quality assurance) report has been finalised, the Government will consider its standpoint as regards the subsequent steps to be taken.” It is therefore reasonable to assume that the project will be given political consideration in 2013.

It is also worth drawing attention to the following conclusions of the summary of the external quality assurance report:

• “The analysis of alternatives demonstrates that Alternative D (“Flex Hav, Skip, NTNU) emerges as the best of the possibilities for the development of the Ocean Space Centre. The external quality assurers believe that the analysis shows that this choice would be the most profitable in terms of its social-economic benefits and non-material effects.”
• In the view of the quality assurer, the closing of MARINTEK after 2020 would be unacceptable, both with regard to the benefits brought to society by MARINTEK and to the options implicit in such a decision.”

Our assessment is that the recommended alternative largely satisfies important aspects of the vision of Norway as a global leader in ocean space technology. This underlines the need for an OSC in the future. On this basis, we will continue to work with our partners towards the realisation of the Ocean Space Centre along the lines of the recommendations of the KS1 report.

The Ocean Space Centre, a future knowledge centre for ocean space technology, will form part of the national knowledge and innovation infrastructure related to marine activities. Establishment of the knowledge centre will be a decisive step towards ensuring Norway’s position as one of three internationally leading nations in ocean space technology. Norway’s future competitiveness and value creation will depend on our ability to play a role in international knowledge and technology development. This will require us to be capable of playing a leading role on the world stage in selected areas of research. The management and exploitation of ocean space is one of the areas in which this is a possibility.

Norwegian industry is a world leader in core aspects of ocean space; ships and shipping, offshore petroleum, and fisheries and aquaculture. For generations, the exploitation of parts of our ocean space has contributed to the development of Norway’s prosperity. Multidisciplinary cooperation has made this possible. Efficient utilisation of new facets of our ocean space will play a decisive role in enabling us to meet major global challenges related to food, energy and the environment. More than half of the surface of the Earth is covered by oceans with depths of more than 3000 metres. In the future, we will need to responsibly exploit the resources hidden in these depths. Marine and ocean space technology will be important input factors in our efforts.

Successful technology development requires knowledge, collaboration and modern tools. This situation forms the background to our efforts to realise the Ocean Space Centre, the national centre for ocean space technology. A prerequisite for strengthening the industry’s research and innovation efforts in ocean space technology is access to advanced, up-to-date tools, such as world-class laboratories and research equipment. The Ocean Space Centre will make Norway an international centre of gravity in ocean space technology. Our ambition is that the Centre will become one of three international knowledge hubs in this field. The Ocean Space Centre is our response to the rising tide of internationalisation, the shifts in technology aimed at taking better care of the environment, and the need for advanced technology that will enable ocean space to be conquered.

The new scientific challenges that will have to be met demand both multidisciplinary efforts and innovative solutions. We need to realise the Ocean Space Centre in order to confirm and develop our national advantages in our most important industries, such as the maritime sector, offshore petroleum, fisheries and aquaculture, and ocean energy. This is particularly important with respect to the exploitation of resources in ultra-deep waters, environmentally robust activities in the Arctic, and the management and development of our coastal regions.

For Norway to maintain its position in priority areas of knowledge, conscious choices must be made. Such choices have been premise-suppliers for the priority areas of relevance to the Ocean Space Centre. For more than 70 years, our existing infrastructure at Tyholt in Trondheim has played a central role in our efforts to develop Norwegian knowledge centres into international leaders in central aspects of ocean space technology.

The Board of MARINTEK believes that realisation of the Ocean Space Centre and new infrastructure by 2020, in addition to growing cooperation between industry and national and international centres of knowledge, will confirm Norway’s position, future welfare and competitiveness, and make possible the conquest of ocean space.

The Centre has the following aims:
• To educate future specialists in ocean space technology.
• To ensure that industry and the authorities have access to leading expertise and infrastructure of relevance to harvesting and managing ocean space.
• To contribute to the efficient use of national expertise and improved knowledge via collaboration with Norwegian and overseas institutions.
• To participate actively in increasing the pace of innovation in ocean space technology.

The complete KS1 Report can be downloaded from the web-site of the Ministry of Trade and Industry.