NOSCA strengthens its knowledge chain
The number of NOSCA members from research and educational institutions has in the past year increased from two to six – a significant change.
This is a very positive development, says Eirik Langeland, General Manager of NOSCA Clean Oceans.
We have to be confident that our initiatives do more good than harm, and this involves complex assessments. Hence, we need the research community on board – those who really understand ecology, from A to Z.
NOSCA now counts among its members Sintef Ocean, NORCE, NIVA, University of Bergen, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL), and Norges Brannskole. In addition to expanding its value chain, the cluster is thus developing a knowledge chain focused on its detection, classification, clean-up, and disposal ecosystem.
– This will help NOSCA’s members make the correct decisions in their development work. What investments are sensible, and which ones could put you on the wrong track? Researchers can often provide the answer, says Langeland.
He emphasises that all the institutions are represented in NOSCA’s three steering groups: oil-spill response and environmental preparedness, marine pollution, and biological threats to the marine environment.
– As a rule, one of the two people heading each group should have a background in academia, and we are also pleased that two of our board members and one deputy board member are from these types of institutions.
Marianne Olsen, Research Director at NIVA, is part of NOSCA’s steering group for marine pollution.
We notice the value placed on our expertise in the cluster, such as in the field of ecological effects caused by plastic pollution. NIVA is also involved in finding solutions for collection and clean-up of plastic along the shoreline, on the seabed, and in aquatic environments.
Olsen highlights the benefits of building networks and gaining access to information on projects and development activities.
We are relatively new to the cluster and have yet to become involved in specific projects with other members. However, this is something we envisage in the longer term.
Project development contribution
NORCE offers expertise in oil-spill response, plastic and microplastic issues, and technology for the monitoring of marine threats.
Fiona Provan, Research Director for Marine Ecology, is part of all three of the aforementioned steering groups.
We are in dialogue with other cluster members with a view to contribute to project development. An example is NOSCA’s test centre by Store Lungegårdsvannet in Bergen, where technology for the detection and clean-up of marine pollution is being tested, says Provan.
She values meaningful dialogues with other cluster members.
Collaboration is crucial if we are to solve the vast, complex challenge of ocean health and blue economy.
Eye-opener for UiB
In January 2017, and 6-metre-long whale stranded at Sotra. It was close to starvation due to plastic clogging up its stomach and intestines.
We had the task of dissecting the whale and saw the gruesome evidence. To us, this was an eye-opener. We realised a need to build real knowledge about plastic in the ocean, including the legal aspects, health-related issues, and environmental consequences. These are three areas in which we offer solid expertise, says Amund Måge, Marine Director at the University of Bergen (UiB).
We now have a “plastic” research network in place and collaborate with entities such as NORCE, NIVA, and the Institute of Marine Research. This is to help bridge any academic gaps between various specialist fields.
Furthermore, UiB strengthens its competence through an increasing number of active students and researchers focused on ocean sciences as part of their master’s degrees and doctoral programs.
NOSCA plays an important part by utilising experience from the petroleum industry, such as oil spill clean-up. This can be developed as well as expanded, and is an area in which we would like to participate, says Måge.
Active use of the cluster
HVL has long been an active member of various clusters, and offer vast experience in contributing to the further development of those of which we are part. We offer research-based advice as well as practical training and academic writing services aimed at clusters or participating companies.
These are the words of John Tveit, Senior Advisor at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL) and also deputy board member at NOSCA.
HVL utilises clusters as part of its research, its development of educational provision, and as a link between student projects and relevant business activities.
We also see that both HVL and other cluster members often benefit from collaborating on project and research applications, says Tveit.
Oil-spill response in practice
Steffen Kristiansen works as Senior Advisor on oil spill response at Norges Brannskole (Norwegian Fire Academy) located in Tjeldsund, halfway between Harstad and Narvik. In addition to firefighter training, the academy offers courses on acute pollution where incidents occur under difficult conditions such as in the dark and extreme weather.
– We contribute with experience relating to oil spill response and the equipment used in this context. Our interest in developing techniques for the prevention and clean-up of oil spills is shared with many cluster members, says Kristiansen.
The fire academy is in a position to check the effectiveness of various materials when used in nature.
– We have visited several of the cluster’s companies to discuss equipment that is being developed. We take a keen interest in testing innovative material, and in this field the NOSCA network is extremely useful.
Collaboration and competition
There is a good geographical spread of research and educational institutions, stretching from Nordland in the north, and via Trondheim to Oslo and Bergen in the south.
These are all driving forces in their own fields, and are both close collaborators and competitors. Just like other cluster members. With this pool of expertise, there is always someone at hand to offer good advice – either directly or through national and international networks, says Eirik Langeland.
Facts & figures
- Norges Brannskole, Tjeldsund in Nordland; member since 2013.
- SINTEF Ocean, Trondheim; member since 2009.
- Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), Oslo; member since 2021.
- NORCE Norwegian Research Centre AS, Bergen; member since 2019.
- University of Bergen (UiB); member since 2020.
- Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL); member since 2021.