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Futureoftheocean discusses with Anders Flensborg

Can business in maritime industry be responsible, sustainable and … as exciting as dating?

I came across Anders Flensborg on LinkedIn Maritime Group when I sent him a message about the groups’ rules.

Shortly after my message, Mr. Flensborg sent me a supportive message regarding the groups’ rules and this was unexpected, because usually people find various reasons to disrespect rules.

We agreed to discuss about our connections with the maritime industry; Mr. Flensborg’s declared intention was to understand better the history, the vision and the scopes of the group; I was quite curious to find out Mr. Flensborg relation with the maritime industry because these were not so obvious at a first glance.

Futureoftheocean:

Thank you very much for agreeing to discuss with the futureoftheocean.com. Could you please tell to the readers of the futureoftheocean.com about your ties with and interests into the maritime industry?


Anders Flensborg:

I am a native Dane, we love the ocean and make a living from it. My maritime career began with an operator between Denmark and Sweden in the late 80ies. I have made plenty of mistakes but a very lucky part of my career has been the great number of skilled experts who took me by the hand and showed me their world. Today I have the luxury of working with people every day who are much smarter than myself. in the early 90ies I moved to Munich where I launched a company for business development within maritime and transportation industries. With many headquarters of global players and the European Patent office spread around the city, Munich has become a European centre for innovation. My connectivity to the maritime sector is diverse, the first 10 years I was heavily engaged in the roro- and ferry sector, developing Transcamion to become a marketleader. After a position as Sales Manager of P&O European Ferries, back then a global leader with a network of 23 services, I won a contract with GM and created the first internet booking engine for the maritime sector using the IT daughter of Daimler, Debis Systemhaus. I later became the partner for Germany, Austria and Switzerland for a top5 BreakBulk- & Heavylift operator Scan-Trans (today Intermarine), a decade of European representation of CSX Transportation, a leading US railway serving 70+ ports, gave me rich opportunity to explore entire supply chains to gain better understanding for longterm investment planning in future infrastructure. In addition, together with my team and international partners, I have executed M&A, financing, newbuilding and restructuring mandates in the maritime industry. From my partnership with the accelerator for maritime, offshore and ports PortXL.org, I found inspiration to create a digital accelerator for our industry and launched FLENZIES.com in the summer of 2018, on this platform we see many opportunities related to innovation.

An important, recent insight which has caused me to change the direction of my business...

An important, recent insight which has caused me to change the direction of my business, was to discover the dramatic state of health of the ocean as it was introduced to me by Mark Spalding, President at The Ocean Foundation - https://oceanfdn.org.

It is sufficient only to think to the state of the corals: 70% of the world’s corals are already dead, of the remaining 30%, perhaps 2/3 can be saved. 

I recently learned that a van Oord vessel has undertaken a pioneer planting of corals. This is quite exciting and gives a ray of hope if one knows that this company has a history as a successful dredging firm and O&G service provider, I hope it will offer inspiration to many across the industry, although planting corals is a very slow and complicated process and the businesscase itself remains a big challenge as well.

I learned also about the amount of micro plastics in the oceans. It seems unlikely that the micro plastics in the oceans can be ever cleaned up. What is probably even more dangerous is the fact that this pollution is practically invisible, therefore, people don’t really acknowledge it as a real danger as opposed to oil or air pollution for example.

I understood that the actual main focus is to persuade the originating industries to use less toxic material. The biggest surprise, at least for me, was to learn that approximately 30% of the indirect micro-plastics in the ocean come from the road traffic! Ultra-fine particles results from the wearing of the synthetic tires and from braking systems, these particles go from air and roads surfaces into waters ending into oceans. One can imagine how huge is this threat considering that OECD forecasts more a doubling of the road traffic by 2030.

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These facts were quite sobering for me...

These facts were quite sobering for me, therefore, I decided that I have to contribute somehow to the effort of ending the harm to the ocean.

We  have decided to further support the 17 SDGs by offering double credit points at FLENZIES.com to any opportunity,  challenge or question which is of value towards the SDGs, for example SDG-14: Life below water (under implementation). With the “Decade of Ocean Science” which begins in 2021, I know that many initiatives will address technology and innovation for all industries working in the ocean environment, and we want to accelerate this important transformation.

Business as exciting as dating

Futureoftheocean:

Thank you for mentioning your platform FLENZIES.com. Actually I’ve noted your FLENZIES.com related announcement on “Maritime Group” and since I messaged you about it I was curious to understand what it is the connection between this platform and the maritime industry. How is relevant this platform for the maritime industry?


Anders Flensborg

The vision of FLENZIES.com is captured in our logo: Business as exciting as dating.

Innovation in the maritime and transportation industries have been described as “The Valley of Death” by innovation experts. I don’t this this is the full truth. The box, next to the spread of the English language and the internet, is a main factor behind globalization and the historical spread of wealth which our generation has witnessed. Still, even containerized shipping which looks so simply is in fact a highly complex matter and any innovation for the sector has to run through many critical filters, in different “silos”, before maturing.

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FLENZIES’ vision is appealing for many startups and experts, equally for well-established businesse

The digital platform FLENZIES, developed in 2018, offers a service based on simple ‘yes/no’ logic to match users with business opportunities all the way through the logistics supply chain.


All businesses in the maritime industry are already very complex, starting with the multilayered logistic chains for both the movement of the cargo and for maintenance and repairs up to the incredible dense net of rules and regulation, international and national.


FLENZIES provides an environment and tools where these various layers of complexity are simplified or even bypassed, and the various stakeholders of the industry find one another in a seamless and realtime fashion. If it is possible and even so simple to search for a match on a dating site, with love and human nature being quite complex…why shouldn’t it be possible in the same manner for all the aspects the business in our maritime industry?  


FLENZIES’ vision is appealing for many startups and experts with a technological background but equally for well-established but open-minded businesses looking to maintain their competitive edge. In this way high-end innovators participating on FLENZIES find straight and fast ways to promote their ideas and to build amazing partnerships, with businesses finding unexpected solutions for their problems. This is often done by offering pilot projects, inviting for site-visits or simply announcing that a breakthrough technology is ready for the market. 


In the wake of the climate change actions resulting in harsher regulations and a shift of mindset, many new technologies emerge to address the necessity to lower the environmental impact of the merchant fleet. This is probably one of the reasons why some of the most successful collaborations (matches) are in this area.

I would like to point out to two such innovative ideas by providing the internet links:

https://www.bawat.com : Ballast Water Treatment without filters and using no chemicals. The ballast water is pasteurized using the waste heat of the engines.

https://ionada.com : Provides unique technological solutions to air and water quality challenges that are environmentally responsible, sustainable, and profitable.

I would also like to highlight the successful collaboration with the Global Port and Maritime Accelerator PortXL, a global leading accelerator for innovation within maritime/offshore/ports with a dozen accepted startups with relevance for the shipbuilding industry https://portxl.org .

I’ve noted that the post on this site about the WhaleWashing hull cleaning startup was published on the “Maritime Group”.  


Futureoftheocean:

Yes indeed – the post about the WhaleWashing hull cleaning startup was very well received by the members of the “Maritime Group” and “Shipbuilding Industry and Professional” group but probably the best it was a comment I got in a direct discussion with a friend:

Quote

I remember washing of many boats whether by diving or by using a long piece of carpet fitted with two ropes to have the perfect hull for maximized speed when I had time for regattas....

Always amazing to see how some turn simple ideas into business....

End of quote


Coming back to FLENZIES, how does FLENZIES support the stakeholders of the maritime industry?


Anders Flensborg

FLENZIES’ objective is to generate matches and if this is not possible from start, at least to support with valuable introductions via the community directly, and the immense and global network. Eventually this leads to a win-win for participating corporations and individuals, including fleet and shipyard managers (technical/commercial), owners, brokers and related experts.

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The young professionals, the future, are already here with us

Futureoftheocean:

All these sounds great but I think that we haven’t paid all the due attention to somebody during our discussion and it is about our immediate future – the young professionals representing the future.

Anders Flensborg

The young professionals, the future, are already here with us and this was my intention to inform on my post on the “Maritime Group”.

This is why I appointed recently a 21-year old as CEO of FLENZIES, Nicolai Rehn.

Nicolai has proven his worth in a very short time and I had absolutely no hesitation to appoint him as CEO of a platform with an enormous potential. 

We do have very active mature professionals, but, as a percentage, the younger groups are very engaging in general. What it is possibly more important is that we see the young user group immediately engaging in initiatives that are really needed now and not later.

On top of this, it is clear that for my own generation it is always a conscious decision whenever a new technology is investigated; whereby Nicolai’s generation thinks and acts instinctively in a digital way,

I expect Nicolai will execute spotlessly his task to take the vision of this platform further into the future.

              

About Anders Flensborg:

Anders Flensborg is the Founder and Executive Chairman of the Supply Chain Business Accelerator FLENZIES.com, he is also the Founder and Managing Director of Flensborg and Associates GmbH, Munich, the Growth Consultancy Team for Transportation and Maritime Industries

www.flensborg-associates.com

The reader can find more information about:


“The Ocean Foundation” on the link:

https://rcm.rockco.com/insights_item/a-sustainable-blue-economy/

The UN Sustainable Development Goals on the link:

https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?menu=1300

The United Nations Decade of Ocean Science

https://en.unesco.org/ocean-decade 

Photos:

  

Flenzies logo: provided by Flenzies.com

Ocean plastic: Photo by Angela Compagnone on Unsplash

Containers: Photo by Sergio Souza on Unsplash

Rotterdam harbour: Photo by François DALLAY on Unsplash

Two ships: Photo by Marius Popa