The Ocean Economy and Innovation

Promoting sustainable seas and oceans with innovation

The world’s seas and oceans are under increasing pressure, both from a growing range and intensity of economic activities, as well as from climate change. The OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) has launched an original programme of work on the Ocean Economy and Innovation with the objective to provide decision-makers with an improved toolbox to foster innovation for harnessing the ocean economy’s potential in a responsible and sustainable way.

Selected Publications

ocean economy

Steering Board Members

BEL Department of Economy, Science and Innovation, Flemish Government

DNK Danish Maritime Authority

IRL Marine Institute

ITA Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn

NOR The Research Council


UK/SCOT Marine Scotland Science, Scottish Government

USA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

(other memberships underway)

Activities in 2017-18

A new OECD project on The Ocean Economy and Innovation has been launched in December 2016. It builds on the findings from a major OECD / STI project on The Future of the Ocean Economy: Exploring the prospects for emerging ocean industries to 2030This two-year activity (2017-18) contributes to broader priorities of the OECD Committee on Science and Technology Policy (CSTP) (e.g. digitalisation, emerging technologies for addressing grand challenges) and is managed by the IPSO Unit (Innovation Policies for Space and Oceans).

Background: The ocean economy’s long-term potential in terms of growth and job creation cannot be fully realised unless more effective steps are taken to improve integrated ocean management -- including ecosystem preservation -- at local, regional, national and international level. That in turn will require significant progress in innovation and new thinking in many areas – in science, technology, R&D, manufacturing, infrastructural design, consultation and decision-making processes, institutional co-operation, and last but not least, in the policy mix that governments implement to support and encourage innovative capacity in the ocean economy more broadly. 

Objective of the project: Provide new evidence-based information to decision-makers as to improve their innovation policy mix for sustainable ocean management. 

ActivitiesThis will be undertaken through a series of expert workshops, research on new OECD indicators, and innovation policy discussions with ocean-related communities around the world (ministries, agencies, academia, foundations, NGOs and the private sector). The activities are organised around four major themes:

  1. i) Exploring the role of scientific advances and enabling technologies in driving innovation in the ocean economy;
  2. ii) Investigating emerging patterns and platforms of collaboration in innovation among different marine and maritime actors in ocean R&D around the world;
  3. iii) Extending the frontiers of the use of economic valuation, analysis and tools further into areas of ocean-related activities; and
  4. iv) Analysing the role of the public sector and the impacts of policy mix in boosting innovation in the ocean economy.
Selected Meetings (in addition to other events organised by Partner organisations):

Contact: Mrs. Anita Gibson, Project Coordinator, IPSO,

News and Events

* On 4-6 April 2017, the OECD Ocean Economy Group visited the UK National Oceanography Centre (NOC) in Southampton to discuss with scientists and engineers the innovative and transformative marine technologies that could / will be supporting the ocean economy. With its impressive scientific and R&D facilities, NOC was the host of the Ocean Business 2017 event. There were 340 international exhibitors onsite, manufacturers, service providers as well as start-ups in the maritime industry sector, with many parallel conferences and practical workshop sessions. 

* On 15-16 February 2017, the OECD contributed to the United Nations' Preparatory Meeting for the Ocean Conference to be held next June in New York. Different strands of OECD activities on the seas and ocean were presented during a side event, including the ongoing work on Innovation and the Ocean Economy.

* On 14 February 2017, the OECD Ocean Economy Group provided a keynote at the Oceanology International North America Conference, in San Diego. This is one of the largest marine science and ocean technology exhibition and conference in North America. 

* On 8-9 December 2016, the OECD held in Paris two important meetings: Its first expert Workshop on Fostering Innovation in the Ocean Economy (8-9 December) and the first Steering Board Meeting of the Innovation and the Ocean Economy Project (9 December). The purpose of the workshop was to provide an overview of the state of play in innovation in the ocean economy and firm up the key themes to be analysed in the next two year period. The workshop brought together 35 participants from government agencies, research institutes, industry and international organisations, representing 14 countries (Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, United Kingdom, USA). The Steering Board reviewed and approved the proposed work plan, and the project was formally launched.

* On 27-28 June 2016, the OECD IPSO Unit co-hosted a Workshop on the Economic Potential of Data from Ocean Observatories, in Kiel, Germany, with the AtlantOS ProjectOcean observatories play a crucial role in our understanding of the oceans and beyond, but their impacts in our societies and the wider economy is still questioned, at a time when policy-makers need ever more evidence-based information to guide their priorities-setting. In this context, the workshop had two main objectives: review the state of evaluation and socio-economic impact assessment of ocean observations, and discuss a potential framework for improving the common international knowledge base. As a result, a dedicated OECD ocean economy activity coud be included in the 2017-18 programme of work, in cooperation with the ocean community.  

* On 27-28 April 2016, the OECD IPSO Unit organised a major Ocean Economy Symposium in Seoul, co-hosted by the Korean Ministry of Fisheries and KMI to launch the OECD flagship publication The Ocean Economy in 2030. Around 100 people were in attendance, with 25 invited international experts giving presentations. Several high-level Korean personalities gave keynotes: Mr. Young-jin Yeon, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries; Mr. Sung Gwi Kim, President, Korea Maritime Institute and Mr. Jin-soo Lim, Vice President, Korea Maritime Institute.

STI Policy Notes





Working Documents

(restricted access to Members)

Oceans in the OECD