Scandinavia leading the way in maritime innovation

Having lived in China for many years news that a giant hole was to be blasted in a mountain to allow ships through, avoiding some rough seas, I instinctively imagined that such a project could only be conceived in the People’s Republic – a country that has spawned many incredible, jaw dropping engineering feats this century. However, this world-first ship tunnel – the most read story on Splash this week – is not something concocted in China – it is a Norwegian creation. On reflection, I should not have been so surprised.

The fact is Scandinavia is increasingly leading the world when it comes to all things maritime tech, something that will be in strong evidence come May 30 and the start of the latest edition of Nor-Shipping.

Whether it’s Maersk’s multiple tech announcements this year, Finland’s growing lead as the place for autonomous ship R&D or DNV-GL’s data platform tie up with Microsoft, across the Nordics the shipping tech revolution is happening fast this year. Other regions – notably China – risk being left behind.

Writing for Splash today, Birgit Liodden, the director of Nor-Shipping, notes that Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden fill the first four positions, in that order, in the latest European Commission Digital Economy and Society Index. This ranks nations within the continent according to connectivity, human capital (digital competency), internet use, integration of digital technology and digital public services. What’s more, when compared to leading non-European nations – including the United States, South Korea and Japan – the quartet retain their positions. Scandinavia does appear to have the right ingredients to lead our industry’s tech revolution.

“We need to disrupt, to question convention and embrace innovation,” Liodden writes today.

Another popular article this week was Frank Coles’ keynote speech given at the Transas Global Conference in Malta on Tuesday. The presentation was a hit, with some on social media even comparing the former Inmarsat boss as the Steve Jobs of maritime. I was taken by his closing lines in which he pointed out smart operations in maritime are already very much here and now – they are not something of the future.

“The perfect storm is developing as the e-commerce players encroach, while technology impacts the way of doing business and the middle man is removed by the digitalisation creating commodity driven efficiency and a new world for maritime,” Coles said, concluding: “Imagine the new world, but understand it is here already.”

In Oslo from May 30 I imagine we will see this new world.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Steve Jobs and Frank Coles? Really? who wrote that where? Where is Coles achievement? Jobs has taken a company from the garage to world leader twice and in between another from scratch to world lead (Pixar). Coles challenges the status quo without proposing concrete solutions and describes what we all expect anyway in the near and far future, just using more drastic and flashy words, doens’t he? They might have some similar characteristics traits though….

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