Campus Ocean is a seagrass movement of ocean explorers, companies, local authorities and investors.
- We Are Human’s first venture since Kahoot! is EntrepreneurShipOne (E/One), connecting the Nordic startup and scaleup community with our greatest ocean challenges
- E/One’s research centre and spiritual home is Beinskjær (aka EntrepreneurRock), a small island with an old steering house in the outer Oslo Fjord
- E/One recently teamed up with Windjammer and Christian Radich to invite young people in need of direction to EntrepreneurRock, to help them forge relationships and fall in love with the ocean and its possibilities
- Previously, Nordic and international entrepreneurs and investors were given a similar experience onboard Christian Radich
- These experiences are part of Campus Ocean, a new bottom-up movement from E/One to create the world's largest "classroom" dedicated to the ocean economy
The magnificent S.S. Christian Radich has anchored up in the archipelago outside the port of Sandefjord, where the snug Oslo Fjord widens to embrace The Skagerak.
Dennis, a 20 year-old from Oslo, is part of the suspiciously young crew of 40 milling about the legendary tall ship’s deck. His confused aloofness is testament to the fact that, until yesterday, he had never set foot on a sailboat, let alone a three-mast ship.
“This voyage seemed like a nice little environment change for me right now”, Dennis says, preparing to disembark into a sloop. “Away from the city. Away from society”.
Dennis is a Windjammer. Which means he is part of a unique voyage aiming to provide young people in need of direction with a reason to get up in the morning. For the next four weeks, he will learn to encounter his feelings of displacement by coexisting intimately with others in a closed ecosystem where everyone is dependent on one another, in sometimes rough conditions.
“What I hope to gain from this? Independence”, Dennis says. “And self confidence. Perhaps use the ocean to gain the courage to take chances, stand up for what I want and not let other people decide.”
Universal lessons, indeed. And as important to these young boys and girls as they are for the company builders, executives and scientists that they have now joined up with in Campus Ocean - a broad alliance forging Norway’s ocean traditions and innovation acumen into a powerful position in the new global blue economy.
We Are Human: Doing the Kahoot! thing again
The Windjammers pile onto Beinskjær, a peculiar little rock with nothing but an old steering house from an English Corvette - bolted in place in the Fifties as a holiday home for a local shipyard owner. It resembles a movie set from Life Aquatic, Wes Anderson’s tribute to everything ocean and exploration.
Beinskjær is the research centre and spiritual home of EntrepreneurShipOne (E/One), a company that works to connect the Nordic startup and scaleup community with our greatest ocean challenges. Co-Founder Johan Brand welcomes the Windjammers ashore:
“Christian Radich is a ship you are proud to sail, whether you’re a so-called school dropout or a successful entrepreneur”, he says, pointing out that he has been called both those things.
Based on his own mixed experience with a school system that defined cleverness narrowly, Brand famously went on to found Kahoot!, the break-out global quiz platform designed around one defining idea: To provide teachers with ways to embrace the potential dropout in the back of the classroom.
In 2017, Brand and Co-Founder Jamie Brooker left daily operations at Kahoot! to build their investment company We Are Human into a platform for exploring, practicing and learning about Values-Based Entrepreneurship (VBE). VBE is about how companies begin and behave. It involves designing, launching and running businesses that place equal importance on human wellbeing, environmental sustainability and profitability. It is a set of values through which companies and institutions can view themselves as servants of stakeholders and society at large, striving for social and commercial impact.
With Sindre Østgård co-founding and joining as managing partner in We Are Human Nordics, they set out to apply their entrepreneurial acumen to the twin passions of solving social exclusion and building a sustainable blue economy.
E/One was their first company after Kahoot!
“We did something with Kahoot! that no one thought possible, just by creating a means for learning tailored to how people actually want to learn”, Brand says. “Now we want to do it again, with the ocean”.
EntrepreneurshipOne: “You can’t beat the wind. But you can learn to sail”
Windjammers are diving from the cliffs, learning to sail and stand-up paddle. Others are preparing meals from local bounties or just staring into the horizon. Christine Spiten, an E/One co-captain, teaches a small group how to pilot the underwater drone from her scaleup Blueye Robotics. She is also a councillor on circular economy at the World Wildlife Fund - this year’s recipient of the Norwegian state broadcaster’s annual fundraiser.
“To have a healthy planet, we need a healthy ocean. To make that happen we need people to care about the ocean”, Spiten says. “Experiencing the ocean like we are doing right now can be all it takes”.
Beinskjær has unofficially been renamed EntreprenrenørSkjær (EntrepreneurRock). For Sindre Østgård, the rock represents a different way to build valuable ocean projects:
“Land-based innovators and entrepreneurs are invited here to meet the ocean and test groundbreaking technology at sea level. After all, we are solving many of the same problems, such as food, energy and transport”, Østgård says.
Sailing is used as an actionable metaphor for values-based entrepreneurship. A while back, E/One gathered 120 ambassadors of the Nordic startup ecosystem and the international tech and investment community for a week’s voyage aboard Christian Radich to Copenhagen Tech Fest. Like the Windjammers are doing now, participants experienced bonding and hands-on understanding for ocean-related challenges & opportunities, forging some strong initiatives.
“Sailing is about learning to work in a team, understanding the value of structure and how to develop networks through collaboration", Johan Brand says, concluding with a slightly reworked surfer’s adage:
“You can’t beat the wind. But you can learn to sail”.
Campus Ocean: Building an ocean innovation ecosystem.
EntrepreneurShipOne. EntrepreneurRock. Windjammer. Christian Radich. We Are Human. They are just a few of the multitude of stakeholders now coming together to bring Campus Ocean to life.
With its broad range of companies, organisations, research institutions and strategic resources, the Oslo Fjord is uniquely positioned to connect strong tech and scaleup ecosystems with the business and investing communities, science institutions, and the strong bottom-up movement for ocean explorers lovingly referred to as The Seagrass Movement.
However, most of these entities have been working within their own limited bulkheads.
“Solving this shortcoming will be crucial to creating the green shift and building a thriving blue economy for the region, Norway and the globe. It is Campus Ocean’s raison d’etre”, Sindre Østgård says.
Working as a bottom-up movement rather than a traditional cluster, Campus Ocean is mapping and mobilising resources for future-oriented commitments by sharing knowledge and best practice development methods. Looking to include ocean capitals along the entire Norwegian coast, the goal of Campus Ocean is to assure a more efficient allocation of talent, knowledge and capital to the people and companies that are solving the ocean’s most crucial challenges.
The project benefits from a unique Nordic brand of public-private collaboration, and was recently granted 1 million NOK from The City of Oslo to scope out next steps. A plan for an ambitious physical campus in the Inner Oslo Fjord has gained the support of Bærum municipality. EntrepreneurShipOne works closely with the municipality of Sandefjord.
“The public-private ocean innovation ecosystem around the Oslo Fjord has gained tremendous speed in the last 3-4 years as family offices and investors with ocean experience have connected with the startup community, dragging the established maritime industries with them”, comments Fredrik Winther, CEO of Katapult Group. Its subsidiary Katapult Ocean has recently closed its second fund, and has invested in approximately 40 ocean-related companies.
“There is a perfect storm of ocean interest around The Oslo Fjord, that is now coalescing around Campus Ocean. What we can solve with the strategic resources present here, can scale anywhere”.
The Windjammers, too, could soon gain their own permanent foothold in the fjord. Read about the plans for Windjammer Center here.
“Campus Ocean is solidly anchored with incumbent companies, public authorities and, most importantly, with the seagrass movement of people and companies creating near-ocean experiences for kids, youth, locals, entrepreneurs and everyone else”, Johan Brand says.
Going with the stream
The greatest hurdle for solving humanity’s greatest challenges has been the time it takes for the largest stakeholders to get on board. Now, a small virus has proved that humanity can change its behaviour in a matter of weeks.
Some vital characteristics of the international innovation ecosystem have changed along the way: Climate risk is increasingly viewed as financial risk; and across the globe public stakeholders are teaming up with commercial entities to hatch long-term solutions to societal and environmental problems.
“It is a business environment in which Campus Ocean is positioned to thrive. Big things can happen”, says Johan Brand.
“My friend Said over here called me up and said ‘Listen, I got a job! Sailing a big ship.’ I said, ‘I want to do that’", says Sakaria Abdi Ali (21), wobbling out of a small sailboat to the relative safety of Beinskjær. In the era of sail ships, many sailors could not swim. Ali, however, is determined to master it.
“You can’t learn to love the ocean if you don’t swim.”
The Windjammers wave goodbye as the sloop carries them back to Christian Radich, basking in a low Scandinavian sun.
“This voyage will be a life changer for me. I am opening my eyes. I see a lot of opportunities”, Ali says.
“For me. And the ocean”.
Facts: EntrepreneurShipOne (E/One)
- A company that builds and invests in solutions that solve some of our biggest challenges related to the ocean.
- E/One is on a mission to unlock the explorer within us all. To enable us to be explorers of the ocean, thus be capable of building the ventures that fuel the new Ocean Economy.
- Collaborates with We Are Human on venture investments like Orca, which has developed a navigation system for the leisure boating market, and Savvy Navvy’s weather-based navigation app for sailboats.
- Arranges events, voyages and exploration for youth, entrepreneurs, businesses, investors and organisations to learn about the potential of the value shift, the ocean economy and the technology enabling it all.
- A fleet of ships that serve as a professional community, research platforms and meeting arenas, including the sailboat EntrepreneurShipOne, BRIM Explorer, Galactic Viking and tall ship Christian Radich.
- Spiritual home and research station at Beinskjær outside Sandefjord, aka the EntreprenørSkjær.
- Working to establish a Windjammer Center in Lyngør (or elsewhere).
Facts: Campus Ocean
- Project initiated by EntrepreneurShipOne.
- Creating the world's largest "classroom" dedicated to the ocean economy.
- A bottom-up movement rather than a traditional cluster.
- Mapping and mobilising resources for future-oriented commitments.
- Sharing knowledge and best practice development methods.
- Looking to include ocean capitals along the entire Norwegian coast.
- Working on an ambitious physical campus in the Inner Oslo Fjord with leading Norwegian property developer.
- One goal is to assure a more efficient allocation of talent, knowledge and capital to the people and companies that are solving the ocean’s most crucial challenges.
- Recently granted 1 million NOK from The City of Oslo to scope out next steps.