The NEOC’s mission is to foster collaborative relationships among marine-focused businesses and entrepreneurs with the aim of generating environmentally and economically sustainable ideas. This inclusive ‘cluster’ framework is purposely designed to drive innovation among it’s network of participants as a mechanism that improves product competitiveness on a global scale.


The NEOC’s vision is to create an integrated and highly knowledgeable, ocean-focused community that encourages sustainable and responsible growth, trains and attracts professional talent, and spurs cooperative innovation.


The original networking was initiated by Thor Sigfusson, founder of the Iceland Ocean Cluster, and his story inspired us to bring this “rising tide” mentality to Maine. Maine has a strong commercial fishing tradition, with over 150,000 tons of seafood landed in 2013. We have a budding life sciences industry, containing more than 220 biotech and medical products companies and organizations. We have several nationally competitive research institutions and universities. Using the resources and context unique to the state, the NEOCH provides a space for entrepreneurs to connect with companies in different fields to develop their ideas, and capitalize on unexplored opportunities together—creating value for the entire cluster.


Big things can happen when creative thinkers engage together. Inspiration is often found in unlikely moments—through simple conversation, new ideas are surfaced and solutions are casually brainstormed. The discovery of connections between unexpected methods, companies, and industries can lead to radical, game-changing innovation for a much bigger picture.

Four years ago, a focus on maximizing the potential in these connections had important results. As part of a larger conversation in Iceland’s seafood industry, professionals across various sectors had started to talk about managing cod utilization in efficient ways. But while there were strong ties between professionals in similar fields working towards this initiative, there was a gap in the number of conversations that took place between leaders in traditional fishing and processing industries, and the higher-margin value-added fields such as biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. A meeting was arranged that cut across these sectors. When these individuals applied their varied perspectives, it introduced powerful new momentum behind the cause and new commercialization strategies to propel development. The group became an important vehicle for increasing awareness about the initiative and generating enthusiasm about emerging opportunities in this new “seafood revolution,” drawing in a new generation of entrepreneurs to ocean-related industries. 


460 Commercial Street
Portland, Maine 04101