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City of Bergen: Smart use of public funding

Gisle Nondal, Head of Business Development in the City of Bergen(left). Photo: Cecilie Bannow
Gisle Nondal, Head of Business Development in the City of Bergen(left). Photo: Cecilie Bannow

The partnership with GCE Ocean Technology will come in handy when Bergen is to fortify its position as the leading Ocean City. Financing clusters is a smart use of public funds, says Head of Business Development Gisle Nondal in the City of Bergen.

– For every success story we can help to create and grow out of a business cluster, the municipality will get a multiple in tax revenue in return sometime in the future. And when we have recognized clusters, we also attract companies that want to establish themselves here. Everyone who engages in activities related to the ocean must have an office in Bergen. That's the collective state of mind we want to create, says Gisle Nondal.

He has been the Head of Business Development in the City of Bergen for eight months now.

The main task of the department he is heading is to take the pulse on the business life in Bergen, keep the political leadership up to date and ensure that the business policy decided by the elected representatives is carried out.

– The municipal industry section follows what is going on in the business world and assists with professional studies commissioned by politicians. Our job is to cater to their needs to enable them to make decisions that benefit the business world.

Financing clusters

Facilitating good business development in the municipality and making Bergen an attractive city for companies that want to establish themselves here is another important task. And in this context, business clusters and network organizations are important.

– We are partners in most of the clusters in the Bergen region. We assist with financing because we believe it is a smart use of public funds. Research shows that companies in clusters are more productive than others, and they promote the innovative power and cooperation that businesses need. At the same time, we can be an innovation-laboratory and connect companies through collaborative projects. In return, we get facts and a basis for decision-making, says Nondal.

Fortify position as Ocean City Bergen

The ocean industries have always been important to Bergen, and they will become extremely important in the future as well. The Head of Business Development is one of several persons with ambitions to fortify Bergen’s position as Norway's number one ocean city, and here the project "Ocean City Bergen" will play the main role.

– We will be the leading ocean region, and to take that position we need GCE Ocean Technology. We want to be an active participant in the cluster's projects, as a partner and in steering groups and other groups. We on our side, also possess expertise that the cluster can benefit from, says Nondal.

Sharing culture

These days, the green transition is at the top of the agenda, also for the Ocean City Bergen, where sustainability is the very foundation. Access to research and development will be extremely important in order to develop the ocean industries as cautiously as possible.

– We have to be sure to transfer the competence and technology base that lies in the oil and gas industry to green industries. An incredible amount of collaboration between different actors is required to achieve the emission targets. Thus, we must share data, knowledge and experience, and GCE Ocean Technology have developed a solid sharing culture between its members. Companies will also have a great need to seek funding for research and development, and clusters offer great expertise and guidance within that area, says Nondal.

Cluster gatherings

He has ambitions to gather the business clusters at least twice a year to receive feedback that can give an indication of which support schemes are needed.

– Such gatherings are useful for us to get impulses and for the clusters to learn from each other and identify possible joint projects. When people talk together, things happen!

Contact Information

Owe Hagesæther

Chief Executive Officer

Owe Hagesæther


Bergen is capital of Western Norway and centre of the foremost maritime region in the world.

The city has the highest density of business clusters in Norway and a popular destination for visitors.


Bergen kommune is one of 18 partners from industry, R&D, academia and public bodies, which has recently signed a new 5-year agreement with GCE Ocean Technology.

The partners in the cluster are the leading force, and the backbone of the cluster's strategic work.

The partners get access to various arenas and projects where they meet potential customers, suppliers and partners.

Here, valuable knowledge is developed and shared between the cluster's +150 partners, members and collaborators.