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Leading researcher: A maritime research center could strengthen the Danish-Norwegian cooperation

The recognized researcher Torgeir Moan, one of the architects behind Norway’s maritime research center, sees potential in a similar Danish institution, but the financing could very well become the crux of the matter, says Moan to ShippingWatch.

The proposal for a significant stepping-up of maritime research, an ideas catalogue which The Danish Academy of Technical Sciences recently delivered to The Danish Maritime Authority, is heavily inspired experiences from Norway and in particular its Centre for Ships and Ocean Structures (CeSOS). The centre was established in 2002 at Trondheim’s Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), which is one of 13 Centres of Excellence created by the national Norwegian research council. CeSOS is close to having educated 100 PhD candidates.

Dissemination of knowledge

“We work along the same lines in Norway (as the ideas catalogue recommends the Danish Maritime Authority), which involves putting great emphasis on the interaction between education, research, and the industry. On the one hand, we are very preoccupied with staying in close contact with the industry, which means the students are exposed to the problems the industry is dealing with. With regard to research, we are attuned to being inspired by particularly the long-term challenges which the industry is facing, challenges that also define our research projects. On the other hand, it is important that universities, research institutes, and the industry attend to its individual duties and tasks,” says Torgeir Moan, CeSOS (www.cesos.ntnu.no), to ShippingWatch.

Torgei Moan is internationally recognized as one of the world’s leading researcher in the maritime area. He believes that a maritime research center could strengthen and develop the research-related cooperation between Norway and Denmark.

Along with other researchers, academic representatives, and industry insiders, Moan has contributed to the ideas catalogue from The Danish Academy of Technical Sciences called “Ideas catalogue to The Danish Maritime Authority, Blue Denmark growth and employment through education and research”. One of the proposals included in the ideas catalogue is the establishment of a Danish maritime research center looking to achieve recognition from the EU as a Centre of Excellence.

Long-term research

“It is extremely important that the universities have the possibility of undertaking long-term research. At the universities, we are not supposed to do our primary research on the issues that the industry is facing right now. As I usually say, if the industry has a very pressing problem, they have lots of resources and can easily carry out various projects much quicker than the universities can. The universities should be run from a more long-term perspective, but at the same time, it is important to keep in close contact with the industry so that the universities are inspired by the industry’s vision for the future. In this way, universities will have something to offer the industry in the future. That will not be the case if we are only working on the same issues,” says Torgeir Moan.  

Financing

However, of vital importance to Denmark and its ambitions of creating a maritime research center is financing, believes Torgeir Moan. Over a 10-year period, The Centre for Ships and Ocean Structures in Norway has received about 130 million Norwegian kroner for basic research from the national research council.

The purpose of the Centre of Excellence arrangement was to heighten the quality of research through better financing, more competition, increased concentration, more interaction between the involved parties and more internationalization. The current total budget of the centre is 380 million Norwegian kroner. 

”When you get financing from a research council and other public institutions, it of course provides the possibility of acquiring further funding through EU projects, the industry, the universities themselves and other collaborators, because you become an attractive partner. Therefore, it is really important to find financing for the basic research, but in Denmark it is of course also a general ambition to increase the efforts made in research and development,” indicates Torgeir Moan.

Sought-after researchers

Many of the educated Norwegian researchers, whether they have taken a PhD or another degree from CeSOS or another institution, today work in the industry and they are sought-after. The PhD candidates are important to the entire maritime research effort in Norway because they disseminate their knowledge within the industry, emphasizes Torgeir Moan:

“The PhD candidates, the post docs and all the other researchers are probably more important than the close to 1000 publications which CeSOS has contributed.”

The Norwegian center has also created companies. The key figures of CeSOS laid the foundations of Marine Cybernetics (www.marinecybernetics.com), which develops methods for testing and control of hardware on ships and offshore installations, for instance for ships with dynamic positioning. Today, the company has about 50 employees.

Shared laboratories

Several research results from CeSOS have also been used by the industry, for instance for improvement of security involved in the off loading of oil from a production platform to a ship. Furthermore, methods and data programmes have been improved through research undertaken by CeSOS.

“It has been very beneficial to us that we are located in a marine technical centre in Trondheim, in which we also have the research institute Marintek, which holds experienced researchers that we can collaborate with. Additionally, we also have laboratories we all can use. Marintek develops and maintains software to be used by the industry and they do so in part by exploiting the results that we produce. This software is also a good research tool for us,” says Torgeir Moan.

Partnership with DTU

Today, CeSOS is in close contact The Danish Technical University in Denmark, which employs two researchers with part-time professorships at CeSOS, professor Mogens Blanke (see photo, which also features PhD candidate Shaoji Fang) from DTU Electrical Engineering and associate professor Martin Otto Laver Hansen from DTU Department of Mechanical Engineering/DTU Department of Wind Energy. Both researchers are from contiguous maritime disciplines, and the former has also worked as an advisor to The Academy of Technical Sciences on the ideas catalogue.

“The quality of the Danish maritime milieu is tremendously high, and for many years, we have had the great pleasure of working with Denmark, even long before we established CeSOS. It is evident that the research community in Norway is larger than in Denmark, but we are really pleased with our partnership with DTU and other maritime entities in Denmark. Consequently, we follow with interest the development in Denmark,” says Torgeir Moan.     

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