Innovation in Greenland
The option to continuously commercialize new species depends to a large extent on being able to link theory and practice and perform experiments close to the raw material on a daily basis.
Our Greenlandic innovation department is dedicated to expanding the potential for commercialisation of new species from Greenlandic waters. The department is an important part of Royal Greenland's global innovation department.
Business Development Manager, Nikoline Ziemer, holds an MSc in Biology from the University of Copenhagen and is responsible for both the theoretical work and the field work.
The waters surrounding Greenland holds a wealth of species and organisms, where some are not yet commercialized. It is species such as whelk, sea urchins, sea cucumbers and seaweed that are all available on the world market today, but where Royal Greenland’s share is either very limited or non-existent.
Nikoline Ziemer is based at our head office in Nuuk, where she works with theoretic and scientific aspects concerning the development of new species. She studies scientific literature, gathers insight on experiences and processes from other similar projects and outlines project descriptions and business case models for use when documenting field work. Besides this, the department is an eager participant in relevant fora for research within development of species - in many cases together with other developers or scientists from the northern countries.
Trial fishery, cultivation and tests are for seasonal reasons in Greenland mainly done during the summer season. The calendar is often full of field work on development projects during the spring and summer. The field work is located in close proximity to our locations along the west coast of Greenland, where Royal Greenland has factories or landing facilities for fish and shellfish.
During the first years, three development projects have been of particular interest; sea urchins, sea cucumbers and cultivation of seaweed.
In Asia, the gonads from sea urchins are considered a delicacy. Sea urchins are common along the shores of Greenland and the business development department has made trial fisheries and trial productions.
"We are working on getting an experimental fishing licence" says Nikoline "When that happens, we would like to fish for sea urchins and produce gonads in even the smallest factories during the winter months, when the fishing is best and the gonads are biggest. This production can take place in even the smallest factories and create employment in the settlements during the winter months."
Sea cucumbers are likewise considered a delicacy in Asia, where the dried molluscs are wrapped in extravagant boxes and sold at soaring prices. The department made the initial analytics of prevalence for the species as well as the preferred seabed and depth for sea cucumbers back in 2017. In 2019 Royal Greenland was granted a trial licence in certain areas between Ikerssarsuk and Nuuk. Together with Royal Greenland’s M/tr Sermilik, Nikoline Ziemer spent several weeks on a systemic trial fishery, that was the foundation for applying for a fishing permit, that is still pending.
The seaweed project is an aquaculture project that has been refined over several years and is moving towards commercialisation. Initially Nikoline Ziemer worked with a research network from The Nordic Council and EU to gain insight into the biology of seaweed, cultivation methods and experience with trial cultivation.
The first small scale trials with cultivating seaweed was initiated in 2018. Now, in 2020, seaweed is farmed in slightly bigger scale in the waters just outside Maniitsoq but still with the main purpose of analysis and market tests.
The first cultivation trials started already on a small scale in 2018, and the following years market and consumer tests have shown positive results. In the summer of 2022, a larger seaweed farm was set up at Inuttooq, 3.5 nautical miles from Maniitsoq, and there is potential for further expansion.
Unfortunately, the 2023 harvest failed due to a lack of deliveries of seedlings, but this has now been rectified and the 2024 harvest is expected to deliver around 30 tonnes.
Production consists of both sugar- and winged seaweed, and Royal Greenland is ready to invest in further upscaling.