THE OCEAN is a global meeting arena facilitating new discoveries, connections, and collaborations aiming to strengthen the ocean economy through sustainable use of ocean resources. The meeting arena is initiated by ocean industries, academic institutions, and the public sector to increase knowledge sharing, cooperation, and technology development across ocean industries, and across industries and academia.
THE OCEAN was organized for the first time in 2019 in Bergen, the Ocean Capital of Norway, with hundreds of people gathering, networking, and exchanging experience and competence – all in the common interest for innovation and sustainability opportunities for the oceans. Due to the Covid-19 situation, we had to re-think THE OCEAN 2020. We transferred the event to a digital conference with plenum sessions, break-out sessions, and workshops, and with 38 participants on the digital stage. The speakers represented the ocean industries, different academic institutions, investors, entrepreneurs, students, and the government. 15 were present in person in a studio in Bergen and the rest of the speakers had live digital presentations from different parts of the world. Topics in the program were consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, the “new normal” in a post-corona situation, investment opportunities in the ocean industries, and facts and trends for the businesses globally. In three break-out sessions, there was a focus on robotics and autonomous operations at sea, knowledge-based utilization of the oceans, and the reduction of carbon footprint. The 300 digital participants were given a selection of interesting presentations and opportunities for interaction through chats, workshops, 1-1 speed dating, and expo visits.
Even though the digital concept was a success and can be further developed in combination with physical events, digital meetings can never replace face to face meetings. When planning the next event, we hope to be able to meet in person in Bergen for THE OCEAN 2021.