The building became empty when Hampiðjan relocated several years ago from the Reykjavík quayside to its new purpose-built headquarters on the Skarfabakki quayside which has easier deep water access for larger vessels. Initially the Ocean Cluster was a modest affair, the vision of Thór Sigfússon who was determined to create a working space to bring companies in Iceland's maritime sector under a single roof.
From fairly humble beginnings in one end of the building, the Iceland Ocean Cluster has grown to occupy the entirely of the former net loft, and there's a waiting list to get in as it has been transformed into a business forum that buzzes with activity and ideas.
Thór Sigfússon explained that the proximity of companies all working in related sectors is crucial. They cross-pollinate as ideas are shared and discussed, with new projects often hatched at an informal level in the corridors or the around the coffee machine.
While the theme is solidly maritime with the seafood sector strongly represented, there is a startling range of diversity among the companies taking part in the Ocean Cluster, from trawl door manufacturers and naval architects to start-ups venturing into the fields of cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and clothing using raw material that would otherwise become industry waste.
The drive for 100% utilisation is at the heart of the Iceland Ocean Cluster's ethos, and Iceland's fishing industry has been a leader in this field already as producers have made efforts to extract maximum value from production.
“I am confident that it is only a matter of time when fisheries will stop discarding out value and more people join the 100% movement,” Thór Sigfússon said. “As more companies join the by-product market and the market develops further, the prices will continue to increase and the incentives for fisheries to get value from their by-products are also set to increases.”