‘Cluster collaboration is the future’


Daniel Garden, CEO of GCE Blue Maritime Cluster, Norway’s largest shipbuilding cluster, is channelling his energy into the Ålesund-based platform as it forges ahead with a revitalised strategy to accelerate innovation and enable the green shift across the blue ocean spectrum.

Garden is a native of Ørsta, nestled among the rugged Sunnmøre Alps at the end of a fjord of the same name. He previously worked as general manager of the Ulstein Business Forum, promoting the municipality as a regional business hub, before taking the Cluster CEO position when it became vacant in 2021.

GCE Blue Maritime Cluster, which currently counts 200 member companies in its fold with combined annual revenues of NOK 50 billion (EUR 5 billion), had already formulated its New Blue Deal (NBD) strategy. “What really grabbed me was taking that initiative and making it fly,” says Garden, “revitalising the cluster in terms of reach and enhancing innovation to achieve carbon-neutral shipping by 2030.”

The NBD sets its aims out clearly. “Now in our 16th year we’re more mature internationally, which requires even stronger commitment from our entire base,” he continues. “We are urging all maritime companies to renew their link to the cluster under new requirements set out by the NIC [Norway’s national cluster programme].

“The NIC will pay 50 percent of costs against 40 percent of hours paid by members themselves and a 10 percent financial share. This requires members and partners to re-register and sign a new cluster contract. New participants are also very welcome. Our harmonized activities will ensure we remain a global centre of excellence focused on the green transition, increasing exports and R&D. It’s a win-win solution for everyone.”