Blue Tech Week in San Diego

Chambers of commerce unite for Green Connections Conference

Blue Tech Week

Photo courtesy of SACC SD
The Blue Tech Conference was a collaboration of the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce Los Angeles and Swedish and Finnish chambers of commerce San Diego. Above are the respective presidents, from left, Henri Syvanen FACC SD, Hans Janzon SACC SD and Erik Steigen, NACC LA.

Erik Steigen
President, Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce Los Angeles

On Nov. 21, the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce Los Angeles (NACC LA) co-hosted the eighth annual Green Connections conference in San Diego together with the Swedish and Finnish chambers in San Diego. 

NACC LA’s involvement started with an email from the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce (SACC) San Diego back in May, asking if we would consider providing speakers and panelists for Green Connections. We appreciated the offer to collaborate, and in July, we entered into strategic partnership agreements with SACC San Diego and Finnish American Chamber of Commerce (FACC) San Diego, where we committed to provide a keynote speaker and try to find sponsors.

Green Connections 2019 was for the first time integrated with Blue Tech Week. In its 11th year, Blue Tech Week was presented by TMA BlueTech (formerly The Maritime Alliance), which is the non-profit organizer of San Diego’s ocean and water technology (BlueTech) cluster and the largest BlueTech cluster in the United States. The theme for Green Connections was “Currents of Energy,” and both Green Connections and Blue Tech Week had a strong focus on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

For NACC LA, being a part of Green Connections and Blue Tech Week was a wonderful experience, and we learned a lot. It also allowed us to contribute significantly. We were able to bring Nordic Naturals, one of NACC LA’s main sponsors, in as a Green Connections event sponsor. 

For a keynote speaker, we were thrilled to bring Erik Solheim, former executive director of the United Nations Environmental Program, and now CEO of the Plastic REVolution Foundation and senior advisor for the World Resources Institute. It was great how Solheim, who is a well-known politician and diplomat in Norway, worked with us to make it possible for him to speak at the conference, literally walking on the podium only two hours after his trans-Atlantic flight landed in San Diego.

Solheim talked about the importance for everyone to take initiative and do something to improve the environment. His talk was inspirational, emphasizing that every little thing helps when enough people take action. Solheim also presented REV Ocean, a cutting-edge research and expedition vessel currently under construction at the Vard shipyard in Brattvåg, Norway. The purpose of this ship is to help scientists and researchers gain access to a platform and the tools they need in their efforts toward creating a healthier ocean.

In October, the Aker Group, REV Ocean, and The Resource Group announced a joint pledge of $11 million to three initiatives dedicated to developing disruptive technology solutions for a healthy and productive ocean; the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) in Norway, which will receive $6 million; the Ocean Data Platform receiving $3 million; and the Plastic REVolution which is being granted $2 million. 

Green Connections’ other speakers provided a broad range of perspectives, from San Diego to the Nordics. Several of the speakers were entrepreneurs presenting cutting edge technology to harvest energy in a sustainable way. Nicole Capretz, founder and executive director of Climate Action Campaign, opened the conference with a talk about San Diego’s efforts to meet its climate goals. We heard from Göran Fredrikson of Waves4Power (Sweden), Josh Gerber of 33 North Energy (United States), Robert Wilder of the WilderHill Clean Energy Index (United States), and Martin Edlund of Minesto (Sweden). 

Jonah Margulis, U.S. country manager for the Norwegian multi-billion-dollar energy company Aker Solutions, talked about Aker’s offshore wind solutions. Aker Solutions has over 350 employees in the United States and 16,000 worldwide. Christopher Ridgewell of AW Energy (Finland) presented the WaveRoller, a source of renewable energy converting ocean wave energy to electricity. Lane Sharman from San Diego’s Energy District Foundation talked about Community Choice, where electricity customers choose their suppliers based on how clean their energy sources are. 

Niko Kurumaa of Netled (Finland) presented their Vera vertical farming technology solutions for lettuce farmers, growing the perfect lettuce in a controlled environment, resulting in 2.5 times bigger crop production size with 60% less energy consumption and 95% less fresh water consumption. 

Ingvar Martinsen, CEO of Port of Oslo (Norway), talked about their efforts of decarbonization by switching to electric, hydropower and fuel cell technologies. Innovation Norway’s Kelly Ratchinsky and Eirik Lønning presented their agency’s focus on blue tech and how Norway can be a great test market for green solutions.

Many stakeholders came together to ensure the success of event. The NACC LA would like to thank Hans Janzon, president of SACC San Diego, and Henri Syvanen, president of FACC San Diego, for great collaboration. A big thank you also goes to Michael Jones, president of TMA BlueTech, who helped educate us in the area of blue tech. Jones also connected us to Innovation Norway’s Ratchinsky and Rebecca Scheel, who were very helpful in bringing in speakers, including Margulis, and Mathisen. Ratchinsky and Scheel also helped organize an important event prior to Green Connections with the Mayor of Los Angeles’s office, together with NACC Los Angeles, as well as a very interesting visit to the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro. We would also like to thank Nordic Naturals for supporting non-profit efforts in the Norwegian and Nordic communities in Southern California and Solheim for such great collaboration and willingness to help provide the global perspective on the future of our oceans. 

NACC LA looks forward to co-hosting Green Connections again in 2020 and further strengthening our relationships with Innovation Norway, TMA BlueTech, SACC San Diego, and FACC San Diego, as well as with the overall Norwegian maritime industry. 

For any questions about NACC LA or Green Connections/Blue Tech Week, feel free to contact us at NACCLosAngeles@gmail.com or visit www.NACCLA.org.

This article originally appeared in the January 10, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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