View from the harbour in Reykjavik

Strengthened Nordic Cooperation Can Put Businesses in the Global Forefront of the Sustainable Ocean Economy

A new report financed by Nordic Innovation shows that strengthened Nordic innovation cooperation within the sustainable ocean economy can give the Nordic countries a competitive advantage and help solve environmental challenges.

There is an undoubtedly large potential in the sustainable ocean economy. In the EU, the ocean economy turnover was estimated at EUR 750 billion in 2018, with 5 million employed in the sector – a 11,6% increase compared to 2017. The High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy estimates that ocean economy investments can yield benefit-cost ratios between 3:1 and up to 12:1 over 30 years.

The Sustainable Ocean Economy: Mapping of Nordic Strongholds report, written by Gaia Consulting, highlights three industry sectors within the sustainable ocean economy where increased Nordic cooperation represents strong potential for innovation and business:

  • Sustainable Aquaculture
  • Maritime Technologies (ocean transport)
  • Advanced Offshore Solutions (energy)

In addition, the report identifies cross cutting opportunities for Nordic businesses across the themes of new application for tech and know-how, improved use of ocean data and digitalization, and utilizing the Nordic region as a testbed.

Sustainable aquaculture

The report identifies Nordic strongholds in the intersection between harnessing technology and data-driven solutions, food supply security and novel higher-value products related to sustainable farming of seafood and algae.

Cross-border innovation cooperation related to new protein sources, new applications for aquaculture products, and better use of technology, data, and digitalization could help further strengthen existing Nordic ecosystems in sustainable onshore and offshore aquaculture, as well as help promoting Nordic solutions on international markets.

Maritime technologies

The report identifies Nordic strongholds in the intersection of the electrification of vessels, autonomous shipping and sustainable tourism.

Cooperation on new approaches and solutions related to low-carbon autonomous transport systems provides good opportunities for innovation and business ecosystem development. Such innovation cooperation is relevant for both large industrial actors and the broader scene of Nordic innovative startups and scaleups, as well as for public-private cooperation with national innovation agencies, municipalities, and end-users.

Advanced offshore solutions

The report identifies Nordic strongholds in the intersection between offshore energy production, distant monitoring and maintenance, and exploring the use of the seabed for multiple purposes.

The innovation and business potential within these areas will manifest at different time scales. The report expects the strongest Nordic synergies to be found in areas that are still more in the research and development phase, but where the future potential can grow to be significant. Such opportunities can be expected to emerge when exploring new ways for co-located, combined, and sustainable use of ocean areas and sites in the overall ocean ecosystem.


The report is financed by Nordic Innovation as part of our Sustainable Ocean Economy program. The program is an effort to position the Nordics as a leading region in the development of a sustainable ocean economy, which is one of the eight initiatives for a greener post-COVID-19 business sector 2021-2024 launched by the Nordic ministers of business and innovation in 2020.  

The report will now be further discussed with a working group to identify future projects and initiatives under the Sustainable Ocean Economy program.

Read more about the Sustainable Ocean Economy program