The Iceland Ocean Cluster’s mission is to create value and discover new opportunities by connecting entrepreneurs, businesses and knowledge in the marine industries.

IOC is proud to be a part of the World Ocean Councils’s new white paper

A new white paper by the World Ocean Council analyzes ocean clusters and recommends actions to advance ocean sustainable development.

The Iceland Ocean Cluster‘s work is analyzed as a part of the study.  The white paper states:

„Comprised of a group of experts, engineers, and entrepreneurs in the seafood industry, the Iceland Ocean Cluster manages fisheries with blue technology and exploits the harvested raw materials in maximum level within its value chain. By maximizing the usage of white codfish, the cluster has created a great deal of value added within the fishing industry. The efforts of Iceland Ocean Cluster to utilize 100% of raw material contribute to maintaining fish stocks at biologically sustainable levels. Using the entire fish adds to the value chain, benefitting both buyers as well as the fisheries themselves. Since the benefit of the 100% utilization can be applied when the supplier or fishers are registered and connected within the value chain of the cluster, this idea of 100% utilization helps decrease undocumented fisheries and over fishing.“


We are pleased to be a part of this important study and the large and growing family of ocean clusters.


See report here



The idea behind the Cluster House

By Thor Sigfusson.

In this article, I will discuss our strategy regarding the cluster houses and how I believe such houses can become a part of a successful industry cluster strategy. I am sure there are other ways to do it but at least our strategy has worked.

Our cluster house initiatives are somewhat pioneering work. Given the success of our Ocean house and now the new Tourism cluster house, we have a proven concept.

Transparency is invaluable for rapid learning and can be a game changer. In light of this, I want to continue spreading the word about how we have set up our cluster work and cluster houses for all of those interested to hopefully add to your knowledge.

The Tourism Cluster House in Reykjavik which opened recently, is a subsidiary of the Iceland Ocean Cluster House. The interest which this new facility has received indicates even stronger the value of cluster houses for the sustainability and growth of industry cluster organisations. The Tourism Cluster House is led by the Tourism Cluster which an independent cluster with great leadership. In the new facility there are already several startups cluster office and offices for larger companies.

The Ocean Cluster House opened its doors in 2012. In the beginning twelve companies had offices in the facilities but they are now over 70. Recent study by the Iceland Ocean Cluster shows that over 70% of the companies in the Ocean Cluster House have collaborated with another company in this facility. The Ocean Cluster House is not government subsidized and neither is the new Tourism Cluster House.

There are five major elements which have made the Cluster Houses unique.

1. The cluster houses are focused on specific groups of industry but emphasize also on the importance of bringing in new services and entrepreneurs which can strengthen the existing industry. For instance, in the Ocean Cluster House we combine core seafood industry people with startups in IT, product design, social media marketing etc. 

2. The cluster organisations have their meetings and gatherings in this space. There, all the members of the cluster meet with startups and get a great insight into the dynamism in the startup field. This develops an interesting community which both parties can benefit from.

3. The space is used by startups and larger companies giving both groups in the cluster a valuable networking opportunity. Here, it is also important to have a mixture of people of different age and gender. We have seen amazing spin-offs where veteran entrepreneurs have collaborated with young entrepreneurs in the ocean cluster.

4. The focus on startups and the startup community gives the cluster house a unique sense of this important part of the cluster. Startups are not often paying members of clusters and are therefore often left out. The cluster house opens the doors for these valuable players in the cluster. It should be noted that we have received grants from large companies to operate a special space within the Ocean Cluster House for startups. This has meant that many brand new startups can have work space for a very limited amount.

5. I am often asked what service we provide to startups. Putting aside some absolute basics such as internet, copying machine and coffee which is of course provided, we want the startups to show a certain character before we start plugging them into our network and assist them further. If the founders show dynamism, organisation and dedication, we become quite excited to assist them, find investors, invest ourselves, assist them in finding the right contacts etc. Our strategy is therefore: if you show dedication we are all in!

We are in the process of opening the New England Ocean Cluster House in Maine this fall. The next steps in Iceland are also being taken. If there are interested parties who want to collaborate with us on cluster houses, we are open for ideas. 

Second cluster established in US, now in New Bedford Massachusetts

Mayor Jon Mitchell, Port Director Edward Anthes-Washburn, and ImpactLABS Managing Director Chris Rezendes signed a memorandum of understanding with Thor Sigfusson, Founder and Chairman of the Iceland Ocean Cluster and the Ocean Cluster Network, creating an official partnership with the marine incubator.
This partnership will officially make New Bedford part of a global network of Ocean Clusters, each committed to sharing knowledge and developing business opportunities for their member organizations. The New Bedford Ocean Cluster will focus on the area’s natural strengths in the commercial fishing industry, fish processing, offshore renewable energy and the developing opportunities for traditional marine businesses in the burgeoning tech segments known as Blue Tech and the Internet of Things (IoT).
The Iceland Ocean Cluster is a marine incubator located in Reykjavik, Iceland, that builds and supports a network of entrepreneurs and businesses in the marine science industries to facilitate the creation of new business, ideas, and research that will ultimately add value to the industry. Over ten startups have been created in the incubator in Reykjavik over the last five years. These startups are creating valuable products for the health care, skin care and nutraceutical markets.
“Cultivating a network of commercial fishing interests and new technology companies can spur innovation in New Bedford, and support the port and fishing industry,” said Mayor Jon Mitchell. “As the center of commercial fishing on the east coast, New Bedford is seizing an opportunity to help create new small businesses and jobs for our residents.”
“We are very excited to connect New Bedford to the Ocean Cluster Network,” said Thor Sigfusson, founder of the Iceland Ocean Cluster. “The Iceland Ocean Cluster has successfully connected startups, research and design, universities, investors and fisheries. With the establishment of the NBOC, as a sister cluster, we believe same dynamism can be created in New Bedford.”
ImpactLABS works with a number of local businesses and organizations to develop sensors and other technologies to collect data and information that supports their growth and efficiency. They work with commercial fishermen to improve on-board monitoring and on-board ocean floor sonar/bathymetry, as well as maximizing efficiency on their vessels. This agreement formalizes the existing relationship between the Port of New Bedford and ImpactLABS; the Port has piloted many new technologies through its own facilities and by connecting ImpactLABS entrepreneurs with existing port users and businesses.
“Sustainable fisheries, oceans health and coastal resilience are three of the greatest challenges confronting the planet, and three of the biggest opportunities to prove the power of digital technology,” said Chris Rezendes, Managing Director of ImpactLABS. “But that proof can only happen with leadership from the people who know these opportunities and challenges best – the fleet, the local scientific community, and the people who live on and near the ocean. New Bedford and Reykjavik are two of the best places in the world to find the talent and experience to teach the tech community what we need to do to help. We are honored to do our part.”
“The New Bedford Ocean Cluster allows our marine industries to formally connect and learn from Iceland’s industries, and vice versa,” said Port Director Edward Anthes-Washburn who has been cultivating the relationship with the Iceland Ocean Cluster and its founder for the past several months. “Our fishermen, researchers, tech entrepreneurs, and other shoreside industries will only benefit from the ideas and information produced at the Iceland Ocean Cluster.”
Locally, the New Bedford Ocean Cluster will also be part of a growing entrepreneurship cluster developing in Greater New Bedford. Many businesses and organizations in New Bedford focus on the development of marine science technologies to further the goals of the commercial fishing industry and other marine-related business, including the UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST and UMass Dartmouth Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), the New Bedford Economic Development Council, and the New Bedford Wind Energy Center.
About the Port of New Bedford
The Port of New Bedford generates $9.8 billion in total economic value on an annual basis, directly supporting 6,200 jobs. Managed by the New Bedford Harbor Development Commission, the Port aims to implement best management practices over port resources and develop economic growth strategies. To this end, it is the goal of the Harbor Development Commission to keep New Bedford on top as the top U.S. fishing port, expand existing businesses and capitalize on new opportunities that will maximize the Port’s potential as an economic engine to create jobs and strengthen the New Bedford economy.
About ImpactLABS
Located in New Bedford, MA, ImpactLABS pilots early stage Internet of Things (IoT) solutions with small and mid-sized businesses in Southeastern New England and a number of regional markets globally through a sponsor and partner network. ImpactLABS is helping the most innovative small and mid-sized enterprises to build more profitable and sustainable businesses.

Iceland Ocean Cluster and Washington State University pledge cooperation

Monday September 11th, Thor Sigfusson, Founder and Chairman of the Iceland Ocean Cluster, and Barbara Rasco, Professor and Director of Washington State University’s Food Science Department, signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the purpose of developing coordinated efforts to provide support to the diversified sectors of the seafood value chain that share the common vision to develop sustainable products and technology for the ocean industry.

Increased cooperation with Washington State University’s dynamic Food Science Department will without doubt be of value for members of the Iceland Ocean Cluster. Likewise, sharing the knowledge and experience of the Icelandic fisheries industry regarding full utilization of fisheries products is of much benefit to the University’s Food Science Department. The establishment of a Seattle Ocean Cluster, based on the Iceland Ocean Cluster model, is being prepared and this cooperation agreement between the Iceland Ocean Cluster and WSU is a valuable input into that effort.

Attached is a picture from the signing of the MOU. In addition to Thor Sigfusson and Barbara Rasco, Ms. Ragnheidur Elin Arnadottir, Senior Partner with the Iceland Ocean Cluster leading the the establishment of the Seattle Ocean Cluster, witnessed the signing.



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