Maritime governance is at the heart of a venture at Aalborg University (AAU). Over the past few years, the university has worked towards developing Innovative Fisheries Management (IFM), a research centre primarily focusing on the fishing industry and coastal communities, into a centre with a broader, integrated maritime perspective.

In the autumn, the venture resulted in the centre changing its name to Centre for Blue Governance and, at the same time, the research strategy was adapted to suit the new focus. Based on the centre’s new direction, AAU has appointed Jesper Raakjær as Denmark’s first professor of port development.

- The Centre for Blue Governance will help provide an in-depth understanding of maritime governance structures and processes at sea, in coastal areas and at ports. The aim is to design and develop legitimate governance schemes for controlling maritime activities and their consequences, says professor at AAU Jan P M van Tatenhove, who has been head of the Centre for Blue Governance since August. He continues:

- Jesper Raakjær plays a crucial role in the development of the institute’s research on maritime governance and its institutionalisation and dynamics. More specifically, he’ll be the anchorman when it comes to port development. This includes sustainability (environment, economy and social matters), networking between ports and understanding of regionalisation processes: for example, the role of ports in macro-regional strategies as hubs for integrating shore- and water-based activities and commercial development of the port eco-system.

Contrary to Jan P M van Tatenhove, who comes from a post at Holland’s leading university, Wageningen University, like many other professors at Aalborg University Jesper Raakjær is employed part-time in order to help bridge the gap between the university and the outside world. Jesper Raakjær is Director of Development at Port of Aalborg and his professorship enables him to integrate specific commercial development at the port and its surrounding area with the newest research on port development and business economics. And according to Claus Holstein, CEO at Aalborg Havn A/S, this ties in very well with Port of Aalborg’s development:

- The traditional function of a port is undergoing a transformation. In the future, port operations will involve much more than handling cargo at docks and serving sea-going transport of goods and raw materials. It is Port of Aalborg’s ambition to be an ultra-modern logistics centre and partner to the business community, serving manufacturing companies in the business park and water-based vessels alike. We actually believe that shore-based activities will account for most of our future growth and jobs at the port, says Claus Holstein. And Jesper Raakjær backs him up:

- One of the goals of this ambition is to make our subsidiary CLS (Centre for Logistics and Collaboration) a centre of excellence – a national hub for logistics and development. And, seen from our perspective, strong research environments at Aalborg University are crucial if we’re to succeed. Therefore, I hope that my appointment as professor of port development will help create the best possible conditions for success and, at the same time, will provide the university with some interesting and current cases to help cement AAU’s position among the global elite of port development and maritime research.

This professorship further strengthens the relationship between Port of Aalborg and Aalborg University. Both are already involved in the ambitious Miljø++ environmental collaboration, the aim of which is to create a platform for symbiosis of businesses in 9220 Aalborg. This platform enables businesses to make the best possible use of the area’s and each other’s resources, focusing especially on plastics, textiles and energy. Aalborg Forsyning and the Municipality of Aalborg are the project’s two other partners.

- Aalborg University is generally positive about collaborating with the business sector. It enables us to try out theories in practice and to gain valuable experience, which can contribute to new and even better research. We also consider it essential that our research gets to work in the real world and contributes to solutions and development for both businesses and other parts of our society. The collaboration with Port of Aalborg and Jesper Raakjær’s professorship are good examples of this, says Henrik Pedersen, Dean of the Technical Faculty of IT and Design (TECH) to which the Centre for Blue Governance belongs.

About Jesper Raakjær:
Jesper Raakjær has been Director of Development at Port of Aalborg since 2016. He came from a post at Aalborg University where he was a professor from 2000 to 2016. Jesper helped start up IFM together with Sten Sverdrup-Jensen back in 1994 and he was head of the centre from 2006 to 2016.
Jesper Raakjær holds an MSc in Business Administration and Auditing, specialising in commercial development. He gained his PhD in 1992 and a doctorate of science in 2009. Jesper grew up in Hals, and before his academic career he worked as a professional fisherman, dock worker and tug skipper.

For further details, please contact:

  • Jesper Raakjær, Director of Development at Port of Aalborg and Professor of Port Development at Aalborg University, ext. no. +45 2920 7202 and jr@aalborghavn.dk 
  • Claus Holstein, CEO at Port of Aalborg, tel. +45 9930 1500, ext. no. +45 9930 1501 and ch@aalborghavn.dk 
  • Henrik Pedersen, Dean of the Technical Faculty of IT and Design at Aalborg University, tel. +45 9930 9632 and dekan-tech@aau.dk 
  • Tine Herreborg Jørgensen, Head of the Department of Planning at Aalborg University, tel. +45 9356 2141 and tine@plan.aau.dk 
  • Press Service: Maja Thordahl Schou, Communication Consultant at Port of Aalborg, tel. +45 9930 1500, ext. no. +45 9930 1528, mobile +45 2261 8308 and mts@aalborghavn.dk