The Role of Government Support in Advancing Norwegian Maritime Innovation

5 minutes
April 22, 2024
Norway's maritime industry stands as a cornerstone of its economy, with a rich history deeply intertwined with the country's identity. However, behind the waves lies a realm of innovation and technological advancement crucial for the industry's sustainability and competitiveness.

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With its in-house developed systems and technology, SEAM aims to lead the charge of technology development for maritime operations. Together with their partners, they initiate complex R&D projects to find new ways to solve their customers’ challenges and create more energy and operationally efficient ships.

This dedication to invest in R&D is integrated in the company business strategy, which enables their skilled experts to dedicate their time to finding ways to implement future fuels, develop better autonomous functions, and create modern safety systems.

But finding the balance between prioritizing business activities and research can be tricky. Behind the innovative developments, such as in the case of MF Hydra and the Flagships project (responsible for developing the H2 Barge 2), lies the significant role of government subsidies and incentives, without which the development of Norwegian maritime technology would not have reached its current heights.

Norwegian Incentives and Support Schemes

Forskningsrådet, or the Research Council of Norway, fosters technological innovation within Norway's maritime sector. Through financial support for research and development (R&D) projects, Forskningsrådet empowers research institutions and companies, such as SEAM, to explore cutting-edge technologies.

For instance, the funding provided by Forskningsrådet through their SkatteFUNN program, has enabled SEAM to initiate the development of state-of-the-art autonomous vessel systems, future-ready automation systems, and technology that seamlessly integrates future-fuels with onboard vessel energy systems.

Other programs within Forskningsrådet include the Centres for Environment-friendly Energy Research, or FME, which carry out long-term research targeted towards energy efficiency, renewable energy, and CCS, such as “HYDROGENi – Norwegian centre for hydrogen and ammonia research and innovation”, and “Mobility Zero Emission Energy Systems” (MoZEES).

SkatteFUNN – Enabling important R&D activities for SEAM

SkatteFUNN, with its tax incentive scheme for R&D activities, serves as a catalyst for innovation among Norwegian businesses, including companies within the maritime sector. Through tax credits and deductions, SkatteFUNN incentivizes companies to invest in technology development, driving advancements in vessel design, propulsion systems, and navigation technologies.

For many of their most innovative R&D projects, SEAM has been able to leverage SkatteFUNN’s incentive schemes to enhance their research capabilities, leading to the creation of next-generation maritime technology.

Beyond borders - EU Funds

Beyond national initiatives, the Norwegian maritime industry benefits from financial support provided by the European Union (EU) for fostering innovation and technological advancements. EU funds allocated to Norwegian maritime projects play a crucial role in accelerating research and development efforts.

The EU-funded program, Horizon Europe, is the world’s largest research and innovation programme with a budget of EUR 95.5 billion. As much as 35% of the budget is dedicated to climate objectives.

Projects funded by the EU, such as the implementation of digitalization strategies in shipping, highlight the collaborative efforts driving maritime innovation on a broader scale.

Impact of Government Support

- The impact of government subsidies and incentives on the development of maritime technology cannot be overstated. By providing financial support and creating favorable conditions for innovation, these initiatives have propelled the industry forward, fostering the development of cutting-edge technologies and solutions, says R&D Manager at SEAM, Pål G. Eide.

From enhanced safety measures to sustainable practices, the influence of government support permeates every aspect of the maritime sector, driving progress and ensuring competitiveness on the global stage.

Collaboration between government agencies, industry stakeholders, and research institutions is essential. By streamlining processes and increasing transparency, the effectiveness of government support is maximized, paving the way for continued innovation in Norwegian maritime technology.

Continued investment in research and development, coupled with a commitment to sustainability and efficiency, will drive the industry towards new horizons. As Norway strives to maintain its position as a global maritime leader, government subsidies and incentives will remain indispensable tools in shaping the trajectory of maritime technology development.

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