The following is an excerpt from AR 2021. It is a summary by Centre Director Geir Anton Johansen.
You can download a PDF of the full report here.
SFI Smart Ocean is a Centre for research-based innovation, funded by the Research Council of Norway. The Centre started on 1. December 2020, and has 6 research partners, 8 industry partners, 2 industry-cluster partners and 2 partners from national authorities. Our goal is to enable sustainable ocean management through real-time measurements from autonomous and smart sensor networks.
2021 has been a challenging year for SFI Smart Ocean due to the pandemic. It is not ideal to start a new Centre from home offices through digital meetings, and with strong restrictions on travel. However, in October we could finally have a physical meeting, and close to 50 representatives gathered at the delayed formal opening of SFI Smart Ocean. The formal opening
was conducted by UiB’s Vice-Rector for Innovation, Projects and Knowledge Clusters, Gottfried Greve. The opening was followed by a full a day of presentations and discussions, and with ample opportunities for socialising. With the Covid restrictions lifted, SFI Smart Ocean will promote team building and physical gatherings in the time to come.
Even though the Covid-restrictions have been challenging, the activities in the work-packages have started up and are well on their way. This first year, there has been a focus on mapping possibilities, limitations, and expectations, as well as development of basic system architecture. This provides a good foundation for development of SFI Smart Ocean technology as detailed on page 12.
Technology components and systems developed in SFI Smart Ocean will be tested through pilot demonstrators for environmental and structural integrity monitoring. Implementation of such demonstrators was started in 2021. The main pilot demonstrator at IMR’s research station at Austevoll became operational in 2021, and field experiments to map the fjord environment in relation to the second pilot demonstrator in Bjørnafjorden were carried out during a research cruise in November.
In this first, fully operational year, it has been important for SFI Smart Ocean to get input from relevant stakeholders also outside the consortium. Close dialogue has been established with Bergen Offshore Wind Centre, and a presentation was held for the Norwegian Offshore Wind Cluster, followed by good discussions on requirements and needs within the wind industry. Dialogue has also been established with NCE Seafood Innovation as a representative for the aquaculture industry, aiming at identification of the requirements from this group of end users. Additionally, discussions with various relevant industry companies have given valuable insight into industry challenges and priorities. SFI Smart Ocean industry partners and cluster partners GCE Ocean Technology and GCE NODE are, of course, critically important when collecting input and knowledge from the industry, and we appreciate their participation in the Centre and look forward to further cooperation.
User needs and industry input have also been important when defining the scope for PhD students starting up their work in SFI Smart Ocean, and also when defining Master’s projects included in the Centre work. Even if it has been more challenging than expected to recruit PhD students, several projects have been started or will start in January 2022. In the years to come, defining relevant and attractive Master’s and Bachelor projects will be important in improving the number of scientifically qualified PhD candidates, and candidates for the industry partners.
The importance of cooperation with other ongoing research has also been highlighted, and dialogue with several other projects has been established. This includes initial talks with another SFIs performing complementary research, and an ERA-NET COFUND MarTERA project devel-
oping communication and positioning technology for underwater drones.
Collaboration and initialisation of new research initiatives are also important in growing research activity, and the first activities on this have been started.
In summary, we are really excited to see the progress of SFI Smart Ocean, and we are truly looking forward to the continuation.