The Iceland Ocean Cluster's mission is to create value and discover new opportunities by connecting entrepreneurs, businesses and knowledge in the marine industries. The Ocean Cluster House is an innovation hub and incubator for companies that draw on the ocean as a resource for their products, services, and ideas. 70 companies are now located in the Ocean Cluster House.
"The global seafood industry dumps nearly 10 million tons of perfectly good fish back into the ocean or uses it as landfill," he said.
"Fish Waste for Profit is a way for all of us to address the problem by bringing together people with hands on experience in fish byproduct utilisation. Innovative health-, pharmaceutical- and even fashion products from the wild fish stock are being developed in the Icelandic economy. There lies our opportunity; Icelanders are putting their minds to create more value from each fish. The results are already out. We are using more of each whitefish than all the developed countries we compare ourselves with. Fish is not only the fillet, skins are being turned into health products, livers become omega and pharmaceuticals, the heads and bones are used – basically nothing is left for landfill."
He commented that scientists believe overfishing, unsustainable seafood farming practices, ocean pollution and acidification will threaten the future of seafood availability worldwide.
"I strongly believe we can take our experience and cluster model in seafood to other countries and use this to inspire collaboration and startups in the field. Now it's up to the rest of the world to imagine, and then build, a value-added world with 100% utilisation."
After completing his MS degree in economics in 1993, Thór Sigfússon became a special advisor to the Minister of Finance of Iceland in January 1994 prior to a career that has taken spells at the Nordic Investment Bank, the Iceland Chamber of Commerce and Sjová Insurance before enrolling at University of Iceland for PhD in business.
In his studies he focused on how entrepreneurs used networks in their internationalisation, all of which alerted him to how companies and entrepreneurs in the marine industry fail to connect with each other. He began working on a network to increase interaction between marine tech companies and launched the Iceland Ocean Cluster in 2011. Since then he has devoted himself to speaking to audiences in Europe and the US about opportunities in building networks in the marine sector. In 2015, he co-founded a sister cluster, the New England Ocean Cluster to drive new ideas in the marine industry and has also been heavily involved as one of its co-founders in establishing Codland.
Codland emerged as the merger of a biotechnology company and fishing companies with plans to fully utilise byproducts from north Atlantic cod. The cluster also initiated the North Atlantic Marine Cluster Project, which works to increase relations between ocean and marine industries in the North Atlantic. In 2013, Thór Sigfússon founded Collagen, with the aim of using fish skin to create marine collagen. In 2016 he co-founded Hlemmur Food Hall, Sjó-Food Hall and Reykjavik Foods.
Fish Waste for Profit 2019 is the 3rd edition of the Icelandic Fisheries Conference, which will run separately to the IceFish Exhibition for the first time from 10-11 April 2019. For more information please visit https://www.icefishconference.com/ or call +44 1329 825 335 to discuss with the team.