OSL🐳CEAN: The Power of Youth & the Ocean Entrepreneurs’ Capital🌱💦

My keynote speech from the AIVP International Conference in Quebec. Slides are added later 😉

Good morning everyone- and thank you so much for a great event so far!

To set the mode of my keynote – I’ll tell you a story. In 2011 I left my job as global project manager for the Wilhelmsen group, to establish YoungShip International. This was a network primarily formed of small local branches in Norway, and I saw the untapped potential – an obvious gap in our ecosystem – of building a global movement of young professionals to challenge the established industry. That work however, would require much more efforts than I could take on the side of a normal job. No one else wanted to put in the required efforts. So I decided to leave Wilhelmsen.

We didnt have any financing, nor formal supporters in place. Just my time and a lot of dedication.. And enough belief in the idea to take personal risk and giving everything to make it happen. We didn’t have budgets to travels or marketing. So we utilised a new mindset, established new branches simply by communicating and planning through people on social media. And using those channels to fuel and participate in discussions that all of a sudden gave invitations to arenas such as IMO, ICS and OECD. The key to the creating was collaboration, openness and trust – beyond borders and cultures. Opening up, inspire, nudge and push for change – It works!. And the key to the future is just that simple – collaboration wins over the old fashioned silo mindset

MAP: Within 4,5 years, YoungShip counted 18 branches in 12 countries, all funded on a shared set of focus areas that included entrepreneurship, diversity, innovation, transparency and sustainability. Mind you, this was still a few years before sustainability had become a buzz-word, and way before MeToo and the strong focus on females.

I handed over the wheels in 2014, but YoungShip continues to grow – empowering young professionals across 22 countries. As the only association in our industry, 4 out of 5 Secretary Generals are female, as well as an average global majority of female board members. Isn’t that such an example of how the future industry will change…? And the industry has eventually embraced the realisation of bringing young thoughts and ideas to the table. The young generation hold the key to the future – and YoungShip is instrumental!

GENERATION CLEANUP: My reason for sharing this story, is that we’re at a point of history where we need people both individually and collaborative to engage to fix and improve our societies. We need to change the behaviour of the worlds most dangerous predator. Unteach harmful and aggressive behaviour towards our societies, and create a society where nurturing and sustainable behaviour takes over for the short term perspectives. We need to use less resources, and extract the ones we use in new ways, and with less harm done. Its the young generation, Millenials, Xenials, Gen Y’s and the following ones who will have to fix this mess we’re in – and could just as well be defined as Generation Cleanup.

I’ve had the opportunity to make a specific difference a few times. Both imposed some risk of position/industry support; first when we established the entire strategy & work of Nor-Shipping on the UN SDGs early 2015. Then last year, as I started the MeToo discussions in global shipping. Neither were risk free, but still important. We must all take action when we see gaps and things that needs fixing.

SOCIETY 2.0: We have built a society of structures, mechanisms and industry players that creates problems, while supposedly claiming to solve them. We address challenges one by one, rather than adapting a holistic design thinking. So we try and solve problems by treating the symptoms, rather than discussing and exploring the total picture and look for the entire diagnosis. We need to start talking more across levels of seniority and age groups, across groups of society, to create solutions based on the diseases rather than the symptoms.

SHARK & PILOT FISH: The young generation need you – who holds the power and resources. But you also need them. We need to think completely new and radical to build a society and business life for the future. Established power houses and new entrepreneurs need to collaborate and create symbiosis to fix our broken structures. And you need to support and embrace the change agents to crush established truths, rethink our methods to create new business with a triple bottomline focus, empowering them to help creating our 2.0 society.

UBUNTU: Business was originally about solving society problems. And the fundament of all religions is to set society before yourself, and give before we take. But over the years, individual profits and short term value creation has taken over – at the cost of long-term society needs. Going back to business the way it should be; contributing for people, planet and profit, require bold leadership from current and new leaders. We need more people in powerful positions to push change quicker, take personal risk – rather than just focusing on their own benefits or exposure. We need to revert back to a mindset that all religions are based on, the idea of focusing on what you can do for society – not what society can do for you. We need to build collaboration, trust and stewardship – aiming to contribute with competence and ideas, and not only to extract values from others. We need to pay it forward – only then will we be able to solve society problems.

BACKGROUND & AMBITION: Aiming to inspire you today, I will show you some specific examples of what we’re currently doing in Oslo and Norway. The Norwegian Prime Minister announced at WEF in Davos this year that Norway will fund the UN Global Compact’s Business Action Platform for the Ocean. At the same time, Oslo has become the Nordics’ fastest growing entrepreneur hub. And its also a top 3 global leading maritime capital, and gateway to the most complete ocean industry cluster worldwide. Yet, until now – the tech & startup community has interacted very little with the established maritime & ocean industries. So we thought its about time to fix this.

INSPIRE & MOBILIZE: Setting a very spesific goal of becoming the world’s capital for sustainability & tech oriented ocean entrepreneurs, our first step is to create the first ever Ocean Entrepreneurs Ecosystem Map for the Oslo Region. We then proceed by identifying current gaps in the ecosystem, and mobilise/inspire the industry & stakeholders to work collaboratively to fill them. We will push & support the growth of a broad and facilitating ecosystem that can attract the worlds´ brightest brains to Oslo & Norway to solve global ocean problems.

POWERCOUPLES: Remember the shark and the small fish? We are currently building and strengthening the bridges between entrepreneurs and the established industry ecosystem, incl. R&D and financial resources. All established players are challenged to contribute in ways that fit their business and strategies.

NEW BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES: We will also promote key unresolved global ocean challenges & opportunities linked to the UN SDGs. At the same time we will showcase smart sustainable innovation within the ocean industries, and key exciting projects towards international mainstream media & the tech community, to fuel more ideas.

BRAINPOWER: Our big idea is to increase the young generation´s interest in the ocean of opportunities, where they can thrive and make a difference, through promoting unresolved problems and highlight new opportunities across ocean, tech & sustainability. We will establish a natural gateway for sustainability & tech oriented ocean entrepreneurs worldwide, with Oslo as starting point but also positively impacting the other ocean clusters of Norway, and serving as an active collaborative partner to other countries & regions, openly sharing our initiatives along the way. Inspire young talents to choose a career path related to the ocean industries

SILOBREAKING: Creating the future requires crushing silos.After some years we get swallowed by established truths and group thinking. Our world and industry is facing a burning platform – where new mindset is critical to jump quick enough. We need to bring young people and diversity into board rioms and mgt groups – demonstrate how everyone needs to work together to create change, – young & old, big & small players, across countries & cultures

CULTURE/DIVERSITY: Changing the industry also require changing the industry’s cultural DNA. This require going outside of normal structures and showcase that new methods works. I´ll pull some examples on how we’ve approached this in Norway so far;

Collaboration & clusters

NGOs and entrepreneurs

Universitys and students


Community involvement

We work on two specific projects- bringing the all stakeholders to the table to create an optimal playground and ecosystem

OPPORTUNITY LAB: Most innovation hubs and coworking spaces are placed in ordinary buildings. As we aim to explore the future of sustainable ocean industries, why stay onshore?

How do we create the optimal coworking space for ocean entrepreneurs from across the world, where entrepreneurs can live, co-create and test their ideas, meet the major players and experts? How can we inspire our industries and societies to utilize and apply existing resources, ideas and technologies in radical and different ways – across silos and established structures? How can we create a visible, accessible and physical floating pilot hub to explore new radical solutions linked to key global ocean challenges? A hub showcasing off-the-grid solutions for floating energy production & storage, water desalination and waste management, ocean farming – and beyond. A test bed to create radical pilots for sustainable business- inspiring the world beyond ocean industries to see that this can be done. A place to rethink what a port can be, what a ship can be used for, which new and unexplored opportunities can be created in and around the ocean. These are our initial thoughts – and we want to collaborate openly with creative and dedicated people from across the planet.

The clock is ticking – we have no time to lose. When my kids ask me 20 years from now how the previous generations could destroy our world as we have done – I want to look them in the eyes, and tell them I did everything I could.

With the SDGs – we have the biggest purchasing order in history. Get the young generation on board, and let’s get to work!!

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