The French-Norwegian Days 2020: Paving the way towards a sustainable ocean

Every year, the French-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce (CCFN) organizes the French-Norwegian Days. Last year, the theme was “Building a Sustainable Future Together” and the event encountered a real success with topics such as Smart Cities, Green Mobility and Clean Energy. The CCFN also celebrated its 100 years anniversary with a sumptuous gala dinner with the annual award of the Fransk-Norsk Trophée.

This year, given the ongoing circumstances, the CCFN had to rethink and reformulate the French-Norwegian Days. With restrictions in terms of travelling and public gatherings, the CCFN decided, for the first time since the start of the concept in 2005, to organize the French-Norwegian Days online. The theme of this year, “A Smart & Clean Ocean”, was inspired by inputs from our members through our committees. This is a priority for governments and industries in both countries. While presenting substantial opportunities for business and economic growth, the ocean and its biodiversity are under threats caused by negative externalities, such as resource exploitation. The marine and maritime sectors, but also governments and institutions, are shaping new strategies to raise awareness and reduce the negative impact of business activities on the oceans while encouraging a sustainable blue growth. The preservation and restoration of the oceans are gaining importance within the industries’ focus, but many more efforts are yet to be planned.

In cooperation with the The French Maritime Cluster, The Pôle Mer Bretagne Atlantique and a selection of other partners, the CCFN organized the French-Norwegian E-forum 2020 from the 13th to the 16th of October with the aim of strengthening bilateral cooperation and innovation for A Smart & Clean Ocean. During four days, 172 people participated and 56 speakers shared their expertise during five technical sessions. In addition, participants and speakers had the opportunity to connect through personal B2B meetings online.

With assistance from professional agencies in Paris and Oslo, the opening session of the E-forum was live streamed, from the CCFN in Oslo and The Norwegian Residency in Paris, with some speakers connected online. The new President of the CCFN, Vincent Dessale, welcomed everyone and The French Ambassador for the Oceans, Serge Segura, gave the keynote. Moderator Torger Reve, Professor Emeritus from BI Norwegian Business School, moderated a panel discussion with Phil Monbet (Pole Mer), Per Erik Dalen (Blue Maritime Cluster), Heidi Neilson (Oslo Harbour), Emmanuel-Marie Peton (French Maritime Cluster) and Yann Barbaux (Aerospace Valley). Four innovative French startups got the opportunity to pitch their activities as part of the opening session. At the end of the session, the two Ambassadors presented their viewpoints and Norwegian Secretary of State, Marte Ziolkowski, gave her closing remarks on the importance of bilateral cooperation.

The first technical session, Financing Innovation and the Transformation of the Maritime Industry, consisted of two roundtables led by moderators Phil Monbet from Pôle Mer and Dag Messelt from BNP Paribas Asset Management. The keynote was given by Pierre Rousseau from BNP Paribas. The speakers emphasized the importance of improved collaboration between the EU and companies for green and smart ships. They also discussed the role of banks and large corporations in the transformation of the maritime industry.  

The second day of the E-forum was about green and smart ships, the future of shipping. During the Green Ship session, moderated by Alain Chardon from Capgemini Invent with chairs Timothée Moulinier from the French Marine Industry Group and Per Erik Dalen from Blue Maritime Cluster, experts discussed innovative solutions for future greener shipping. For mid-range sea transport, hydrogen appears to be the most suitable solution, while for deep-sea and long-distance shipping, ammonia could be the preferred solution. How to meet the growing energy needs through optimization, storage and new types of fuel was on the agenda. Speakers emphasized the importance of political will and cooperation at European level.

The Smart Ship session - Moderator John Berland from Sopra Steria steered the ship with keynote speaker Tobias Studer Andersson from Sopra Steria Scale up Scandinavia and co-chairs Phil Monbet from Pôle Mer and Torun Degnes form SAMS Norway. Norway is a front runner in smart ship technology. France has strong ambitions and cross-industrial cooperation is highly relevant on this field. We see for instance many opportunities for cooperation between the maritime and aerospace industries on A.I., cybersecurity, autonomy, satellites data for optimized routes…

The Ocean Data session was organized in cooperation with the Ocean Data Foundation. Linwood Pendleton, moderator and SVP for the Center of the 4th Industrial Revolution, part of the World Economic Forum, highlighted the themes: Trust in big data for the ocean, Synergies in ocean data companies, Cooperation of academia and business and a Sustainable blue economy. Chairs John Markus Lervik from Cognite and Francoise Gaill from the Ocean Climate Platform, together with the speakers, discussed how Norway is in a unique position to becoming an industrial data innovation hub, and the importance of the dialogue between academia, businesses and governments.

The last session of an eventful week, Offshore Wind; co-existence and co-use, was organized in cooperation with Norwep (Norwegian Energy Partners) and FEE (France Energie Eolienne), at Innovation Norway. Head of Export at Innovation Norway, Eli Wærum Rognerud, moderated the session with chairs Matthieu Monnier From FEE and Knut Erik Steen from Norwep. The importance of sharing experiences and an open and transparent dialogue was highlighted. Norway is moving fast in offshore wind and pave the way for other actors. What is needed is a regulatory, compensatory, and transparent system. Hydrogen can be used as a mean to solve the intermittency challenge and could be stored in subsea storage. The first step is to develop large-scale projects with opportunities for collaborations between France and Norway.

The session Meet the French Corporates, organized in cooperation with Innovation Norway, allowed to connect a selection of Norwegian Startups/SMEs with French large companies.

The CCFN would like to thank everyone who participated in the E-forum. We are grateful to our partners the French Embassy in Norway, the Norwegian Embassy in France, Innovation Norway, Business France, Cluster Maritime Francais, Pôle Mer Bretagne Atlantique, Institut Francais, Aerospace Valley, and The Research Council of Norway, as well as to our sponsors BNP Paribas, Total, Sopra Steria, Nexans, Capgemini Invent, BI Norwegian Business School and Bertel O. Steen.

We would also like to thank the speakers, moderators, chairs, technical teams and participants who made this new digital/hybrid concept a possibility, and a success.

This week has contributed to identify very concrete opportunities from funding maritime sustainable innovation to launching business cases on hydrogen, smart ships, green ports, ocean data… Cooperation between the industry, policy makers, financial institutions, within a European frame has to be prioritized. These topics and projects will be explored further by the French-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce and its partners in the coming months. To quote the Norwegian Ambassador during the opening session, “Ocean needs bridges”. We hope that this week has contributed in building strong and long-lasting bridges between France and Norway for a more sustainable future. To be continued…

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