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Chris Green, director of Washington state’s Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness, addresses the Nordic Innovation Summit at the National Nordic Museum in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, before signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Innovation Norway, whose regional director Gro Eirin Dyrnes looks on. Behind them are Norway’s Ambassador to the U.S., Hon. Kare Aas, and Washington state Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib. (GeekWire Photo / Todd Bishop)

Norway and Washington state will cooperate on next-generation maritime technologies and clean energy innovations in both regions of the world, with goals including further modernizing and reducing the environmental impact of the fishing and seafood industries.

Representatives of Innovation Norway and Washington state signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Thursday morning at the Nordic Innovation Summit at the National Nordic Museum in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. It was a symbolic setting — an area of the city where an influx of tech workers has transformed the economy, conflicting at times with the neighborhood’s decades-old maritime industry.

Officials cited the larger goals of promoting economic cooperation and trade relations, with a focus on innovations in clean energy, oceans, electric vehicles, data analytics and other areas of technology.

“We are focused, and we are obsessed, and that’s the meaning of this MOU,” said the Hon. Kare Aas, Norway’s ambassador to the United States, echoing themes from an earlier keynote address by Morten Hansen, author of the book “Great at Work,” who addressed the conference to start the day.

“Before you can talk about the economy and the environment, you have to start with mutual respect and friendship,” said Washington state Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib, addressing the crowd. “For us, that means connecting our commitment to our planet to our place … with a desire always to look for economic opportunities for prosperity.”

These are some of the areas addressed in the two-year cooperation agreement:

  • Working to shift away from carbon-based fuel sources for vessels, including a move to hybrid and electric power.
  • Tech innovation such as offshore marine renewable energy, sub-sea sensors, gliders and robotics.
  • Modernization of fishing and seafood industries, including equipment suppliers and developers of processing technology.
  • Digitization of maritime industry with a focus on data analytics, IoT and blockchain technology for sustainable ports and sustainable shipping.

Habib noted that the signing of the MOU was actually the start of the process, stressing the importance of Norway and Washington state now following through to work together on their shared goals. Birger Steen, the veteran technology executive who chairs the Nordic Innovation Summit, told the crowd that future installments of the conference will check in on the progress of the collaboration.

The agreement was signed on stage by Chris Green, director of the state’s Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness; and Gro Eirin Dyrnes, regional director of Innovation Norway. The sold-out conference, in its second year, covers topics including smart cities, automation, transportation, autonomous vehicles, banking, finance and the economy.

The conference follows an event earlier this week in Seattle where representatives of the tech industry met with maritime leaders to discuss ways to collaborate.

Here’s the full text of the MOU between Innovation Norway and Washington state.

FINAL MOU: Innovation Norway, Washington State by Todd Bishop on Scribd

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