HON195 Student Post: Autumn Wentworth, English Major; Honors Minor, Public and Professional Writing Minor
Career Aspirations: Editor
Innovative Thinking with a Creative Mind
On Thursday, June 15th, I traveled to the New England Ocean Cluster (NEOC) with my 14 classmates and four professors. After a day of touring the Portland Fish Exchange and exploring Portland, it was refreshing to sit around a large conference table and learn about Eimskip and how it is part of the Ocean Cluster House. Portland has just recently become the New England headquarters for Eimskip, an Icelandic transportation company. While it was originally located in Virginia, the company changed its location to Maine because the Icelandic employees felt more at home. I found this information very fascinating. I’d never been to Iceland before and, despite researching some cultural aspects, I still wasn’t sure what to expect. After hearing that the Eimskip employees were more comfortable in Maine, I hoped that this meant I would be comfortable there as well. As these thoughts were flying through my head, the woman at the head of the table, one of only three or four employees in her department, began by telling us why transportation matters.
We learned that it usually takes boats carrying goods about two weeks to travel between Maine and Iceland, and that the most common item shipped is seafood. This is because the fishing industry in Maine and Iceland are very similar. Both locations rely heavily on fisheries and fishermen to help support their statewide and countrywide economies. Transportation is extremely important to Eimskip because it creates connectivity between Maine and Iceland and allows each location to help support one another’s economy, along with their own. After watching the video, we learned about the concept of the Ocean Cluster House and how Eimskip fit into this concept.
View the video here: https://vimeo.com/141783902
The Ocean Cluster House, both in Maine and in Iceland, helps different companies come together to create innovative ideas geared toward solving common issues. They do this by bringing different companies and entrepreneurs together, and giving them the opportunity to expand on their ideas. Some people they provide with funding, some with experts, and others they just give the opportunity to use the status behind Ocean Cluster House to back the legitimacy of their own product. I was impressed by this concept. I believe people are often too isolated from the resources they need to promote their ideas. Without support, many ideas would never get out of someone’s head.
Inside the Ocean Cluster House, many of the walls are glass to create the feeling of openness. Also, in the Reykjavik Ocean Cluster House, there are only two coffee machines located in the building. Since they don’t allow coffee makers in the individual office spaces, this means people from different areas must come out and interact with each other. The first time they get coffee together, they may only exchange names and simple conversation, but eventually they will become close enough to begin sharing ideas. This is a concept that needs to be promoted more often in the workplace and in schools. Many people don’t know how to interact or collaborate with people from other areas of expertise because they are often isolated. As an english major, I spend the majority of my time with other english students, which is great, but sometimes I wonder if I would know how to work with others outside of my major.
Not all of the products that are created or explored by the Ocean Cluster House are fishing related, but all are chosen carefully depending on how they will help the economy and environment. One of the major goals of the Ocean Custer House is to eliminate waste that stems from fish processing. In the United States, roughly 40 to 50% of the processed fish is wasted. In Iceland, this number is down to 20% and their goal is to bring it down even lower in the future. Many different groups, companies, and entrepreneurs that are involved in the Ocean Cluster House, despite their different areas of expertise, will come together to make the most out of a product. When we reached the end of our tour in the Ocean Cluster House in Reykjavik, we arrived at a table covered with cod products. These products represented the Ocean Cluster House’s attempt to eliminate waste in the fishing industry. It was filled with different kinds of supplements, gels, creams, fashion accessories, and many other items. By creating these items, the different people working in the Ocean Cluster House found creative and innovative ways to drastically reduce waste. This concept also struck me as being vital. Many people look at items on a shelf, take a book for example, and don’t think of how it got there. They take the book off the shelf, read it, and put it away again. These materials don’t magically appear though; lots of time, effort, and creativity from many different areas of expertise goes into the production. Books need to be written, edited, published, advertised, promoted, and finally sold. It is the same with the products created in the Ocean Cluster House.
After the tour was over, the room was still abuzz with activity. Many of us stood around the table discussing the products laid out before us and trying several of them. We were impressed with the work done by the Ocean Cluster House and left feeling more informed about the importance of NEOC and the Ocean Cluster House in Reykjavik.