Washington State and Norway renew maritime-focused Memorandum of Understanding

Chris Green of the Washington State Department of Commerce (left) and Innovation Hege Barnes of Norway shake hands after signing the MOU at the Lumen Field Event Center during Pacific Marine Expo 2021. (Photo by Gregory Scruggs)

Amid a sea of ​​colorful waterproof bibs, plush captain’s chairs and boat parts, representatives from Washington state and the Norwegian government renewed their memorandum of understanding on Friday at Pacific Marine. Expo in Seattle.

The new two-year agreement will maintain the framework, was first established in 2019, under which Washington and its Nordic partner will collaborate on a private sector exchange to develop environmentally sustainable business opportunities in the so-called green economy of marine technology, as well as in the marine economy. green economy around areas such as decarbonization of energy sources.

Hege Barnes, Americas Director for Innovation Norway, the international business development arm of the Norwegian government, said: “This is a step forward in building bridges of cooperation and an innovation system. open to share and learn together. “We are carrying [together] companies that will change the world as part of the green transition we are investing in globally. ”

The agreement comes after a new MOU between the state of Washington and Finland was signed in the first day of this month and after the September visit of Ambassadors of Norway and Finland to Seattle. Norway signed an MOU with California in April focused on electric vehicles, but the 2019 agreement with Washington is Norway’s first innovative deal with an American state.

Chris Green, assistant director of the Office of Economic Development and Competition at the Washington Department of Commerce, said: “Beyond great technology, companies and innovation, I really believe Norway and the state of Washington. have a common set of values ​​about environmental management. . Green notes that Washington state and Norway have roughly the same population and GDP.

Washington Maritime Blue, the nonprofit organization responsible for the growing sustainability-focused marine businesses in the state, signed the MOU.

“This is a critical time for knowledge sharing to grow, accelerate and expand,” said Joshua Bergen, Chairman and CEO of Maritime Blue.

In 2019, two delegations from Washington state went to Norway and one delegation from Norway to Washington state before the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily halted international exchanges. But those trips resumed later, with nine Finnish companies visiting Amazon, Boeing, Microsoft and the ports of Seattle and Tacoma earlier this month. In January, businesses in Washington are expected to come to Norway to No transportation, a major international conference on the maritime industry.

These exchanges have yielded results. Seattle-based data analytics startup ioCurrents signed a deal earlier this year with leading Norwegian company Kongsberg Maritime. In 2018, Norwegian battery manufacturer Corvus Energy expanded its operations in the United States by opening an office in Seattle. Forged in part by a formal business relationship between Norway and Washington state, Corvus plans to start producing electric batteries in the state in 2023, which could supply Evergreen’s growing demand for electricity. electric ferry.

“It created a platform where we could mingle, connect and learn to work together,” Corvus Energy North American Sales Vice President Sveinung Odegard told GeekWire.

These potential success stories are at the heart of Norway’s global business ambitions, which have already found a willing partner 4,500 miles away. “Norway is a small country so we and our companies need to learn how to scale,” says Barnes. “How do we make our companies think bigger and assemble partnerships to help them grow?”

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