Reflections on Nor-Shipping 2022

22 Apr 2022. By Catherine Austin

Gathered in Oslo, Norway, the I-Tech team stood ready to take part in our first international maritime exhibition in over three years. It was early April and Nor-Shipping week. Following what seemed like years of preparation, owing to the fact that this edition of the exhibition had been delayed many times, we were finally in our booth space, which was bigger and better than ever before.

This biennial exhibition has served as an important meeting place for the international maritime industry since 1965, providing the perfect playground for stakeholders from far reaching corners of the world to conduct business face-to-face.

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the industry to adopt digitalised meetings spaces and tools, and I’m sure the benefits of these adaptations will continue to live on. However, the opportunity to meet and conduct business in person at Nor-Shipping was absolutely glorious.

Being back in the room with customers, friends, the media to network, share knowledge and build partnerships over the four days was so refreshing. It was as though us industry folk had never been kept apart and conversations flowed, as did the coffee and beer.

The I-Tech/Berg Propulsion booth in 2022

For I-Tech, as we stepped into our booth space that we shared with our fellow Swedish innovators and propulsion experts, Berg Propulsion, the enormity of being back in business as usual conditions gave the team a renewed energy. Being back energised us from the get-go.

This year marked our third time exhibiting at the Nordic fair and countless years of being attendees, walking the halls. I-Tech first began exhibiting at Nor-Shipping in 2017, in the fair’s inaugural Blue Economy Hall. Our footprint in that hall was tiny, a carpet circle defined our boundary and two large cardboard tubes with our product name printed on the side acted as our our centrepiece, flanked by a couple of roll up banners. The theme for the hall was innovations that prosper the blue economy, and the settings were such that the visitors to the hall were submerged under the ocean surface. It was pretty cool.

The I-Tech booth in 2017

In 2019, we were also exhibitors in the Blue Economy Hall but this time with an upgraded stand that we shared with our Gothenburg-based propulsion optimisation technology friends, Lean Marine. This stand had two solid walls; it wasn’t just a circle carpet on the floor. We had a coffee machine, meeting tables, even hosted table football tournaments!

Fast forward to April 2022, and our booth wasn’t located in the Blue Economy Hall. The progress and uptake of our technology by the industry meant that we had far outgrown the incubator hall for emerging innovations. This year our booth was in Hall D, alongside our customers and other fully fledged, well-established technology and service providers. We had a bar complete with bar stools and served lunch, had fridges stocked with beer and an enclosed meeting room. This year we went big.

This may sound like a weird success to celebrate, having a big booth at a trade fair. But from our humble beginnings in the Blue Economy Hall, it was clear how far we have come in our entrepreneurial journey as a technological disruptor in the marine coatings field.

For us, the increasing size of our Nor-Shipping booth and our journey out of the Blue Economy technology hall is just one reflection of our success in launching a brand-new technology into the maritime industry and its benefit being confirmed on ships, and hundreds of them.

As our team walked the halls of Nor-Shipping, talking to ship owners about our technology, Selektope® it was wonderful to confirm just how many ships this technology is being used on today, compared to just five or six years ago. In 2017, when asked how many ships were protected against barnacle growth thanks to Selektope, our team were proud to say one hundred plus. Now, we boast of some eight hundred plus ships sailing with Selektope in action on the hull. The share of the global fleet using our technology is growing rapidly and we provide a solution to a problem that is increasing in risk and severity year-on-year thanks to warming water temperatures and increasing ship idling in reaction to world events and shifts in the supply chain.

A busy few days at a busy booth!

This year, as we sailed around the Blue Economy Hall, it was amazing to see the great number of pioneering companies that are pushing the boundaries of decarbonisation and pollution prevention from ships. Many of these clean and green technology start-ups will be in a similar position to I-Tech when we started exhibiting at the fair. Hopefully they too are backed by long-term support from investors dedicated to enhancing the efficiency of the global shipping fleet and reducing its carbon footprint coupled with a tenacious team of experts in the field wanting to make a difference.

Arriving at the fair, it was hard to anticipate how this, post-pandemic edition would play out. Would it be normal? Would it be quieter? Would networking opportunities be presented in a different format? But as soon as we arrived at the exhibition halls, into meetings, to the parties it was as if the industry never left. It was so good to be back.

Catherine Austin
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