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From Site Selection magazine, January 2015

Ocean Cluster Takes Shape in Portland

An Icelandic industry model migrates to the New World.

Photo courtesy of The City of Portland

overnor Paul LePage announced on October 16th the successful establishment of the New England Ocean Cluster in Portland. The Iceland Ocean Cluster led by Thor Sigfusson, has partnered with North Atlantic Assets and Soli DG, Inc., of Maine to establish the New England Ocean Cluster and New England Ocean Cluster House. (This initiative was first noted in Site Selection’s November 2014 North American Reports.)

“This past June, I led a trade mission to Iceland where our delegation witnessed first-hand the work of the Ocean Cluster House,” said Governor LePage. “This model is an excellent example of how private-sector investment in innovation and cluster development can result in economic growth. I am proud of my administration’s partnership with Iceland’s Ocean Cluster and the new product development that will result from the establishment of a New England Ocean Cluster House in Portland.”

This private-sector enterprise is focused on commercialization of new products related to the Ocean as a resource. The goal of the cluster is to create, encourage and spin off new companies and products with cluster members with the goal of utilizing 100 percent of materials being harvested from the ocean, while focusing on higher and higher margins.

"The New England Ocean Cluster will bring international attention to Portland by stimulating private-sector innovation and creativity on our waterfront."

Michael Brennan, mayor of Portland

“It is a spin-off factory,” said Thor Sigfusson. “We create an environment where collaboration amongst our members happens naturally, and we build upon new relationships with ideas, guidance, support, equity, whatever it takes to get moving.”

Sea of Opportunities

“Maine has always had hard-working people with great ideas. This is an opportunity to link up with and learn from some of the best talent overseas while creating new opportunities in Maine and New England,” noted Patrick Arnold of Soli DG, Inc., the US-based ownership of the New England Ocean Cluster. Companies engaged in the New England Ocean Cluster will be focused on a diverse array of industry opportunities such as food processing, boat building, energy production, fishing, aquaculture, biotech, biomedical, pharmaceuticals, advanced materials, retail products, health and wellness, marine technology, applied science and many others.

“The New England Ocean Cluster will bring international attention to Portland by stimulating private-sector innovation and creativity on our waterfront,” said Mayor Michael Brennan. “I’m excited that Thor Sigfusson of the Iceland Ocean Cluster and Patrick Arnold of Soli DG have selected Portland for this venture. We look forward to our continued efforts in seeing this project to fruition.”

The Maine North Atlantic Development Office (MENADO) has been working as part of the State’s efforts to develop new opportunities for Maine throughout the high north. “Having the New England Ocean Cluster House in Maine will position Maine as a leader in Ocean Cluster enterprise and commercialization in the Northeast,” said Dana Eidsness, director of MENADO. “It will give us a seat at the table with the North Atlantic Ocean Cluster Alliance, where we can innovate and share cluster formation and commercialization best practices with Ocean Clusters in Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Greenland, the Faroe Islands — and with our neighbors in Canada. We will instantly be plugged into a dynamic international network that drives economic development using local resources. Maine has just the right mix of entrepreneurs and ocean resource partners to make this a success in the US.”

Looking out on the North Atlantic from Monhegan Island
Photo by Adam Bruns

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