Circular Ocean Innovation Conference 2017


Date:   17th -18th July 2017

Location:   Reykjavik, Iceland

Circular Ocean brought it’s unique eco-innovative thinking to Reykjavik this month for a two day Innovation Conference, in conjunction with Innovation Center Iceland and the Reykjavik School of Visual Arts. Tackling the issue of marine plastic pollution in the Northern Periphery & Arctic Region, the event gathered project partners with members of the academic, creative and business communities to explore opportunities around re-purposing waste Fishing Nets & Rope (FNR’s).

Day One – Innovation Centre Iceland

A group of over thirty international delegates gathered at Innovation Center Iceland (ICI) on Monday, July 17th to learn about the challenges surrounding management of end of life fishing gear and the opportunities for recycling and reuse. Project partners from Scotland, Ireland, Norway and Greenland outlined their findings on current management practices for FNR’s, before sharing details of their research work. Circular Ocean is investigating various potential applications for FNR’s in areas such as wastewater treatment, 3D printing, as a reinforcement material in the construction sector and as a replacement for virgin polymers in aquaculture.  Guest speaker Christina Dixon of Global Ghost Gear Initiative outlined the dangers associated with ghost fishing gear and the positive measures that are being implemented by their members. The morning concluded with an enlightening series of “Express Presentations” from the Marelitt Baltic project, Avanti Environmental Group, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and the Future Fishing Net Project at ICI.

The afternoon saw Circular Ocean’s second “Scenario Exploration Session” led by Dr. Laurent Bontoux from the EU Policy Lab and supported by project partner Professor Martin Charter from The Centre for Sustainable Design. Delegates were invited to adopt the role of an SME involved in recycling or reuse, a fisheries agency, a harbour master or a fisherman, to explore future scenarios, the value of collaboration and the ultimate impact of external economic and social factors. The approach for the workshop has been developed from a two year foresight study on the future of eco-industries and eco-innovation in Europe to 2035 and builds on a successful session held in Cork, Ireland earlier this year.

Day Two – #Net_Hack_Challenge_Iceland

The Reykjavik School of Visual Arts provided an inspiring backdrop for the #Net_Hack_Challenge on Tuesday, July 18th as participants were asked to seek out creative solutions to a series of challenges surrounding management of FNR’s. The second in the series of Circular Ocean’s #Net_Hack events was led by project partner, Professor Martin Charter. The model was first developed and executed in Farnham in November 2016, which resulted in a collection of innovative product concept prototypes. The result was six original product concepts, the winner “Rubbfish” – a marine litter collection bag & educational programme to encourage schoolkids to collect beach rubbish. Full details of all product concepts are available to view here

If you are an individual or SME interested in progressing these concepts or if you have a business idea involving reuse or recycling of waste FNR’s, Circular Ocean would like to hear from you! The project is designing a Green Economy Business Suite to highlight the prospective economic opportunities around reuse of waste nets, whilst promoting the concept of circular economy and eco-innovation.

Conference Presentations


The Circular Ocean Project – Dr. Neil James, Lead Partner, University of the Highlands & Islands

Innovation Center Iceland – Kristjan Leosson, Managing Director

Global Ghost Gear Initiative – Christina Dixon, World Animal Protection

National Ports

Scotland – Dr. Neil James, University of the Highlands & Islands

Ireland – Julie Crowley, Macroom E Enterprise Centre

Norway – Paritosh Deshpande, Norwegian University of Science & Technology

Greenland – Ida Bertelsen, Arctic Technology Centre

Partner Updates

Sustainability Impact Assessment of Norwegian Fishing Net Sector – Paritosh Deshpande, Researcher, Norwegian University of Science & Technology

Fishing Nets in Construction –  Ida Bertelsen, Researcher, Arctic Technology Centre

New Developments

Marelitt Baltic – Andrea Stolte, Project Manager Ghostnets, WWF (Germany)

New Approaches to Fishing Net Recycling – Paul L Rendle-Barnes, Group Senior Business Development Manager, Avanti Environmental Group

Marking Fishing Gear – Dr. Pingguo He, International Consultant, Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations

Future Fishing Net Project – Kristjan Leosson, Managing Director, Materials/Biotechnology/Energy, Innovation Center Iceland


Innovation Conference Iceland – Day One


Prof. Thorsteinn Ingi Sigfusson, Director General, Innovation Center Iceland


Prof. Martin Charter, Centre for Sustainable Design


Dr. Neil James, ERI North Highland College


Paritosh Deshpande, NTNU


Ida Bertelsen, Artek


Julie Crowley, Macroom E


Christina Dixon, Global Ghost Gear Initiative


Andrea Stolte, MARELITT Baltic


Paul L Rendle-Barnes, Avanti Environmental


Dr. Pingguo He, United Nations


Kristjan Leosson, Innovation Center Iceland


Dr. Laurent Bontoux, EU Policy Lab


Catherine Costello, Macroom E

Innovation Conference Iceland – Day Two

Click here to for details of our first #Net_Hack_Challenge at The Centre for Sustainable Design, Farnham, England