The Norwegian export industry is coming together under a single nation-brand: The Brand Norway initiative. The goal is to increase exports by communicating a clear profile of Norway and the companies that operate there as pioneers in sustainability.

The initiative includes a useful toolkit for Norwegian companies seeking to establish a stronger international presence.

One of these tools is The Explorer, a digital marketplace for green technology that matches sustainable Norwegian solutions with international interests.

“I wish I had known about this service before I left,” explains Dennis Crane, the operations manager at C&W Industrial Fabrication & Marine Equipment, a Canadian seafood equipment manufacturer, on the sidelines of a recent trade show. “I could have done more research and made better plans about which companies to meet with while I’m in Norway.”

Dennis Crane, the operations manager at C&W Industrial Fabrication & Marine Equipment, at Aqua Nor. Photo: Henrik Fjortoft

Crane is in Trondheim attending the world’s largest aquaculture technology exhibition, Aqua Nor, where we invited him to test The Explorer to see whether he’d be able to identify a partner among Norwegian providers of green solutions on the platform.

“Here’s something very interesting about autonomous ships: I actually took a look at one of these at the dock today,” Crane says after spending a few minutes clicking and scrolling through the more than 250 companies currently listed on the marketplace. “There’s lots of useful information about traceability and fish. This is interesting. Good information is invaluable.”

New Norwegian solutions are published on every week and international awareness of the marketplace is growing. In June, The Explorer launched in Germany. Already, it’s been a massive success. Over the summer, the site saw more traffic from Germany than Norway. The Explorer launched in the Netherlands and the UK this Autumn. A launch in Finland is forthcoming.

Norway at the fore

C&W Industrial specialises in seafood processing equipment and has its sights set on expansion in the aquaculture sector. Crane visited Kristiansand earlier this week to study robots that clean netting. He also stopped by salmon giant Leroy’s new automated facility outside Trondheim and visited offshore fish farms. Together with a large delegation from Canada, he intends to learn all he can from Norwegian salmon farming.

“We have a long history of aquaculture in Canada, but we use traditional, open net-pens in fjord-like waters,” Crane explains. “I like how The Explorer highlights new, sustainable solutions. We need them.”

Elisabeth Svanholm Meyer, head of the export Norway department at Innovation Norway, says Norway is a pioneer in green solutions across the shipping, energy and seafood industries, and a range of other sectors.

“The market for green and sustainable solutions is growing rapidly and Norway is well-situated to take on a leading role in the green transition,” Meyer explains. “The Explorer allows us to present world-class Norwegian solutions to the entire world in a simple and effective way.”

Liv-Hege Seglsten, former CEO of CreateView, tells Dennis Crane how her company's technology photographs and analyses fish underwater. Photo: Henrik Fjortoft

A cohesive brand

Standing out amid the multitude of companies offering products and services on the global market is a challenge. By profiling themselves under a clear shared brand and taking full advantage of established matchmaking capabilities, platforms like The Explorer can give participants a competitive edge.

Innovation Norway, which maintains a presence across the globe, facilitates all of this by bringing Norwegian companies together.

“We must join forces to carve out the position we want for Norwegian solutions, and Aqua Nor is an example of a very important arena in Norway,” Meyer continues. “There are many events around the world, in every sector, where it is important for Norwegian companies to participate. In order to fully exploit these matchmaking arenas, we must come together under a shared brand, and that brand is Brand Norway.”

  • Establish clear goals
  • Create a communication plan based on a central message
  • Announce your participation in advance, on social media and other channels
  • Obtain a list of participating companies and schedule meetings in advance
  • Assign the right tasks for the right people (it’s not always your technical expert who should man the stand)
  • Act professionally
  • Prioritise your time; snap up hot leads from visitors to the stand
  • Follow up with leads within two days
  • Evaluate your participation after the fact; ask yourself: what went well, and what could be improved?

Countries with a strong presence at Aqua Nor include Canada, Chile and Denmark. Innovation Norway has invited delegations from the aforementioned nations, and many others, to introduce people like Crane to relevant Norwegian companies.

“Innovation Norway uses trade fairs actively as part of our strategic export activities,” Meyer explains.

Crane finds the artificial intelligence (AI) company CreateView—which he found via The Explorer—in the section of the trade fair showcasing companies from the More and Romsdal region of Norway.

“After two years, the company is seeing strong growth,” says former CEO Liv-Hege Seglsten.

The company’s solution combines camera sensors with AI technology to count sea lice and monitor fish health and welfare—all without any physical contact. The images are analysed on an ongoing basis and the results are visualised through an intuitive, easy-to-use dashboard.

Crane wants to know more about the company’s business model and wonders what it is they are selling.

“We don’t sell the actual sensors,” Seglsten explains. “We make them out of recycled material and retain control of them to ensure constant recycling. So, we lease them out and sell the software instead.”

Nofir is another company that has published a solution on The Explorer.

Heidi Ruud of Nofir describes the global volume of waste from fisheries and aquaculture, and what needs to be done to make fishing nets and ropes recyclable. Photo: Henrik Fjortoft

The company collects used fishing equipment from around the world, prepares it for recycling, and ensures that it is used in new products. The company has facilities in Lithuania, Norway, Poland, and Turkey. At Nofir’s stand, Crane sees a carpet made out of recycled seine nets, nylon made out of plastic waste from fisheries and aquaculture, a snow shovel made out of used rope, and men’s socks that are made from a blend of cotton and recycled nylon from fisheries and aquaculture.

“Aqua Nor is the ideal meeting place,” says Heidi Ruud, Nofir’s procurement and logistics manager.

Looking ahead, Crane will return to Canada with many ideas about how his company can deliver more equipment to the aquaculture industry in the future.

“I have met many exciting companies and good people here,” Crane concludes. “I hope to build on these new connections in the future and collaborate with some of these incredible companies.”