Efforts on maritime research necessary to achieve Swedish climate goals

Compared to Denmark, Finland and Norway, Sweden invest considerably less governmental money in dedicated research and innovation for the shipping sector. In a report, written by Lighthouse and commissioned by the Swedish Maritime Administration, the Swedish Transport Administration and the Swedish Transport Agency the research and innovation of the Nordic countries are mapped.

The full report is availiable here (PDF in Swedish, summary in English). Below is a short summary.

The aim of this report is to map on-going research, innovation, development and demonstration (hereon RD&I) within the maritime sector and to analyse the potential for increased collaboration between Sweden and the Nordic countries Finland, Denmark and Norway.

Based on various calculations the number of employees in the Swedish maritime cluster is estimated to between 27 100-100 000 corresponding to 0.5-1.9% of the total workforce. In Norway, the maritime sector is about 4% of the labour force, in Denmark 2.6% and in 2.3% in Finland. Generally, Sweden/Finland are strong within RoRo shipping, Norway in tanker shipping and Denmark in container shipping.

Unique competence
Maritime strategies in the Nordic countries all focus on improved sustainability, competitiveness and on climate and environment. Therefore, it is perhaps not surprising that the RD&I conducted also focus on these areas.

Sweden has considerable expertise in research relating to energy efficiency, alternative fuels, enavigation and connected vessels, human factors, maritime safety and ship design. Key areas in Finland are for example digitalisation and Arctic technology. For Norway, alternative fuels, integrated transport systems and business models and advanced maritime operations, are priority areas where RD&I-actors have large competence. The Danish shipping sector has a major focus on environmental and climate improvement measures and RD&I conducted has a major focus on energy efficiency and alternative fuels.

It has not been possible to find complete details of ongoing shipping-RD&I and the report therefore only consists of a summary of the projects identified in each country. For several identified projects (171 of approximately 600) information is lacking, for example, information on the total amount or amount per year and/or other project partners and their contributions. Since data is missing, the mapping should not be percieveced as an absolute picture of ongoing shipping-RD&I. Since the distribution of on-going RD&I usually is considered as a competitive disadvantage, the lack of information on the corporate side is perhaps not surprising.

Difference in financing
Financing opportunities vary significantly between Sweden and the Nordic countries in terms of earmarked funding for maritime-RD&I. While the Swedish funds for maritime-FIUD amounts to 5-5.5 M€, Denmark has about 8 M€, Finland about 12 M€ and Norway about 16 M€ earmarked each year for maritime-R&D.

As shown in the table, Denmark, Finland and Norway invest considerably more in maritime R&D than Sweden, both in absolute terms and per capita.

All the Nordic countries participate in projects funded by the EU. Programs that have been investigated are Horizon 2020, the TEN-T/CEF, Interreg and BONUS. Sweden takes part in more projects than Norway, Denmark and Finland in the field. Denmark, however, receives most funding for maritime RD&I projects within the Horizon 2020 and on-going 2015-2016. Two of the projects where Swedish actors received most funding are about environmental and climate improvement measures, focusing on engine technology, shipbuilding and alternative fuels. Sweden has for example unique expertise in the application of methanol as a marine fuel.

Common grounds
Areas where the Nordic countries have common interests and large competence are in Energy efficiency and alternative fuels, also including environmental and climate measures. Additional areas are digitizing and automation, and Advanced maritime operations.

All countries have launched initiatives regarding autonomous shipping and digitizing. National projects in maritime informatics overlap and there could be collaboration possibilities for to utilize the resources available. Projects regarding autonomous shipping may also require test areas outside national borders, why cooperation would be valuable.

Collaboration opportunities
A major issue and a precondition for increased cooperation is the desire for increased cooperation. The report shows that most of the participants have a general desire for greater cooperation with industry, academia and the public sector. Greater cooperation between the Nordic actors is also desired. However, not at the expense of skills and academic excellence. The actors want to collaborate with the best actors in just their field, regardless of where they are located.

The actors themselves testify that a lack of funding of Nordic projects prevents collaboration with the Nordic countries. A lack of platforms for collaboration has also been identified. If increased cooperation is desired, Nordic cooperation platforms or meeting places and financing structures for Nordic projects might be a way forward.

A formalised cooperation or a platform for Nordic maritime RD&I could increase the potential for future cooperation. Activities such as conferences/seminars and utilisation of RD&I occurs in all countries and here further cooperation might be possible.

Want to know more?

Åsa Burman

Phone: +46(0)31-772 26 74
asa.burman [at] lighthouse.nu