Development of maritime innovations in the North Sea region
Maritime industries comprise one of western Sweden’s prioritised areas of strength, and the region is home to 3,000 maritime companies with a workforce numbering around 20,000. The EU project Periscope (Platform for Expanding Regional Innovation SCOPE for blue growth) is currently underway, bringing together countries around the North Sea to establish sustainable maritime development and open doors to new maritime business. Two of Periscope’s members are from Western Sweden.
Periscope was initiated in October 2017, consisting of 12 members from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. Two of Periscope’s members are from Sweden, both of which hail from Western Sweden. Maritime industries have made a distinctive mark on Western Sweden’s coastal region, which is today a focal point of Nordic maritime operations through Scandinavia’s largest port, the Port of Gothenburg, a centre of research and development centre for marine environments and maritime development, and a hub for the Swedish fishing industry.
The participants from Western Sweden are Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE) and Business Region Göteborg. Madeleine Johansson, Project Manager at Business Region Göteborg, and Kerstin Hindrum, Section Manager at RISE, are driving forces in the project.
“Periscope is a three-year Interreg project in the North Sea Region Programme aimed at further developing the maritime industry through collaborations and innovations which can help the industry become more climate-smart and sustainable for the future. The project involves jointly examining the challenges existing in the North Sea region and working together to identify innovative solutions able to strengthen the sustainable maritime industry,” says Madeleine Johansson.
“Periscope will contribute to increased knowledge and awareness and provide insight into existing maritime challenges. There is greater strength in many parties working together and sharing their solutions,” explains Madeleine.
“The project affords opportunities to make new contacts and to find new organisations and clusters. It’s important that not only those in charge and at the front collaborate, but that the cluster networks and the individual players therein also come together. New constellations broaden horizons and provide fresh knowledge,” says Kerstin.
“The goal of Periscope is to jointly identify two innovation opportunities linked to maritime development, such as a product or service,” says Kerstin Hindrum.
Innovation development ideas
The project is now looking at two innovation ideas to develop: inspection drones and offshore charging.
“The one innovation is a drone connected to ships. In the past, a person would be sent into a confined space, such as in an oil tanker, to inspect, for example, seams, welds, and everything needed to ensure the cargo is safe on the ship. In Periscope, we are instead looking at a drone that can be sent into these spaces which is able to cope with the confined spaces of a ship. The idea is that the drone travels along a set course while gathering information, which is then submitted for analysis, to ensure that information is always up-to-date. Inspection drones exist, but using them in confined spaces presents a number of technical challenges, which we are looking at in this project idea. It’s interesting from both a safety perspective and in terms of cost savings,” says Madeleine.
“In keeping with the increased focus on electrification in shipping and other maritime operations, the needs and possibilities for offshore charging stations are being discussed. Connection to established wind farms is, therefore, being addressed in Periscope as a potential collaborative development project. A survey of interest is currently underway. Two very exciting ideas with contributors who are looking forward to working together. In this, Periscope provides an opportunity for the companies to work on and develop these ideas together with foreign participants,” says Madeleine.
“Fuel cells constitute another area undergoing rapid development in step with the electrification and greater energy efficiency in various areas of society. This is another proposal we are investigating. Marine interest in fuel cells is linked to electrification and energy-efficiency. Fuels cells are an appealing option when it comes to storing energy,” says Kerstin.
“We’re planning a Hackathon in Malmö in November. Over two days we will continue the work on digitalisation, but will also focus on our two project ideas and on how regulations and permits affect development in the marine and maritime areas. It will give us a chance to showcase Swedish skills and expertise, which is always fun and exciting,” says Madeleine.
“An overarching issue we will be addressing moving forward pertains to the establishment of a Digital Hub within offshore operations. Digitalisation hubs can be found in Sweden, but none focuses on the ocean. We are also busy discussing in the partnership how we can continue to collaborate on such hubs, where Sweden can strengthen its position within offshore development,” says Kerstin.