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Good news for The Blue Denmark

Higher Education Minister Morten Østergaard's speech at the "2nd PROTEUS Conference – World-Class Servitisation" 12 December 2013 in Copenhagen.

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The changing nature of the market

Ladies and gentlemen

It is a pleasure to be here marking the official conclusion of the PROTEUS Innovation Consortium.

This Monday, when the half-yearly report Danish Shipping Statistics was published, it was with good news for The Blue Denmark.

2012 was a record year for Danish shipping, as its foreign currency earnings surged to 26 billion Euros.

The Danish merchant fleet counted 633 vessels, which is the highest number ever recorded. And Denmark is the 5th largest shipping nation in the world, only surpassed by Japan, Greece, China and Germany.

Good news and great numbers.

So why don’t we just sit back and enjoy the tailwind? Well, first of all because the international competition is tough. The global crisis has also affected the maritime world.

And Denmark’s strong position does not mean that growth in this business area will occur automatically in the coming years.

We constantly have to improve our competiveness. We constantly have to think new and innovate. And as I see it - this is exactly what PROTEUS is all about.

I like the name or abbreviation of the consortium. The mythological Greek sea-god, Proteus, was the symbol of adaptability in the face of the changing nature of the sea.

And I believe you could say that the consortium is about adaptability in the face of the changing nature of the maritime market.

Servitisation and product/service-systems in the maritime sector seems very promising. And I hope that you all will gain insight from best practice on how you can add services to products or even replace a product with a service.

I believe the key to finding new solutions goes through cooperation with relevant partners. And PROTEUS has a strong composition of maritime companies, Danish research institutions, service partners and university partners.

Denmark should be the maritime centre of Europe

Exactly one year ago, on December the 12th 2012, the Government presented its growth plan for The Blue Denmark.

The growth plan was drawn up on the basis of recommendations made by the Growth Team for The Blue Denmark, with contributions from a wide circle of stakeholders from The Blue Denmark.

And the Danish government sent a clear political signal to The Blue Denmark.

The maritime sector is of great importance to Danish growth and workplaces. We believe that the sector has great potential. And the ambitions are high. Denmark should be the maritime centre of Europe.

Denmark is today a leader in the maritime field. But as front-runner, we must not only keep pace. We need to create and drive development by focusing strongly on research and innovation.

Higher fuel prices and sharper demands on the global maritime transport to reduce emissions is a challenge, creating a need for new solutions.

And finding solutions will not only benefit the environment. It will also enhance Danish competitiveness.

The Government calls for a paradigm shift in the Danish innovation policy.

Since the launch of the National Innovation Strategy, Denmark - a nation of solutions, we have launched several initiatives working to create better conditions for challenge-driven innovation.

With the establishment of Denmark’s Innovation Foundation - we now have a large foundation that will be responsible for implementing grants for research, technology development and innovation, which are based on societal and commercial challenges and needs.

The Foundation will have an annual budget of about 190 million Euros. And it will be led by an independent board, which will implement the funds and decide how the instruments should be prioritised and developed in the future.

One of the main initiatives in the new innovation strategy is the establishment of public-private partnerships solving specific societal challenges. Denmark cannot address all challenges at once.

To help the Danish Parliament to decide which societal partnerships should be established, we have compiled a catalogue called INNO+.

The INNO+ catalogue is designed as an inspiration and prioritisation framework for new, intelligent investments in innovation.

In connection with the distribution of the Research Reserve in 2014, a green maritime societal partnership from the INNO + catalogue, "Blue jobs via green solutions ", was selected as one of the partnerships we will focus on.

I am very pleased that we have a blue partnership. And I look forward to see the results of this ambitious project. Strong blue competencies through training

Danish Shipping is Denmark’s largest single export industry. To maintain and expand our position and accelerate growth in the Blue Denmark we need a strong and qualified Danish workforce.

We must not lose one job in The Blue Denmark because we lack people with the right skills. The Danish workforce cannot and should not compete on low wages - but on quality.

It requires a skilled and well-trained crew to control the ship's course and to fix the engine. And we need a skilled workforce both in terms of quality and quantity.

It is vital that we train enough navigators and engineers for future jobs in the Blue Denmark - both at sea and on land.

The previous government introduced restrictions on access to maritime training. Despite the fact that unemployment in the maritime industry is low and skilled workers are in demand. We have changed that.

And we have worked hard to ease the previous government’s restrictions on access to maritime education.

So far we have increased the number of places on courses to ship officer, captain and engineer with 330. The number of places on maritime education should match the needs of the industry.

Just two days ago we decided that the education to become a maritime engineer should also be conducted in Esbjerg. The large growth in the offshore industry in the Esbjerg area has created a great need for technical staff, including engineers.

We listen to the industry.

However, an increased intake also sets requirements for the companies.

We should develop good career paths that can ensure the food chain of skills.

It is important to attract more young talent. I am therefore pleased that both students and PhDs are involved in the PROTEUS consortium.

Concluding remarks

The maritime sector is of great importance to prosperity, growth and workplaces in Denmark.

Denmark is one of the world’s leading maritime nations. But our advantage is not a given. We need to constantly strengthen our competitiveness. We need a competent workforce. And we need to focus on how we can be more efficient, more sustainable and more innovative.

The growth potential in The Blue Denmark should be utilised, not least through partnerships between research institutions and companies. The Innovation Consortium PROTEUS is a good example of this.

And I hope that the results and the experiences from the consortium will benefit the whole maritime sector.

I wish you all a fruitful conference.
Thank you. 

last modified Dec 12, 2013