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Symbiosis development

Sotenäs Center of Symbiosis

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Industrial and social symbiosis in Sotenäs municipality

Description and ambition

Sotenäs Center of Symbiosis shall be a leading actor in maritime development. We are an innovative hub in an environment where the human meeting is the basis for the transition to a circular economy. With the sea as the basis, we strengthen the existing business and create opportunities for new green business.

Sotenäs municipality is the center for fish and seafood in Sweden, with the largest producers of processed food from the sea. But we also transform the residual product into a rich resource, as shown in this process. Sotenäs Symbios is a concrete example of a circular economy. The ambition is to create innovative and sustainable business environment with industrial and social symbiosis as main methodology.


In order to support industrial and social symbiosis between actors, Sotenäs Center of Symbiosis facilitate and coordinate the symbiosis development. In a symbiosis network, the companies or other entities exchange competence, products, energy, services and other benefits in order to create added value and improve industrial productivity. Benefits created in the symbiosis network retained jobs and companies, reduced eutrophication and CO2-emissions as well as increased revenue and lower costs for transportation and waste handling.


Industrial and social symbiosis offers social, environmental, and economic benefits. Through increased collaboration between organizations, opportunities are created to identify and implement measures to close loops in society.

Industrial symbiosis

In industrial symbiosis, one entity's waste or byproduct becomes another's raw material. By collaborating, companies and other organizations make the system more efficient than if each optimizes its own operations. When companies actively work together with each other's flows and waste streams, physical symbioses arise. Resource collaboration between companies may also involve the shared use of infrastructure, facilities, and services. This benefits local development towards a more sustainable society.

Social symbiosis

The symbiosis is populated by people: business leaders, employees, experienced entrepreneurs, enthusiasts, startup founders, as well as innovators and developers. The work on social symbiosis aims to strengthen relationships and collaborations, support entrepreneurs in innovation and green transition, contribute to securing the workforce needed in symbiotic companies, or connect innovators with business developers or entrepreneurs with research and development resources. Without the right people in the right positions, there is no green transition. It is not just industrial symbiosis but also social symbiosis.

Symbiosis around seafood waste, biogas, process water, and organic certified fertilizer

The symbiosis in Sotenäs are mainly connected to fish processing companies, land-based fish and algae farms, fishing gear production and the marine recycling center. One important part of the symbiosis development is to secure the right competence for each actor and function. The jobs created are for different grades of education and skills, so every person can become a part of the development, from beach cleaning, factory and restaurant workers to engineers, artists and researchers. The Center of Symbiosis is working close to the municipal adult education and the work training unit.

Symbiosis around fishing gear and marine waste

The Sotenäs Marina Recycling Center is located near the Hogenäs Recycling Center and is based on close collaboration between Sotenäs municipality and the Fishermen's Association Norden/Smögens Nät. (FF Norden) and is co-financed by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, and Vinnova.


Work is underway here to collect and recycle beach litter, worn-out fishing gear, and marine waste. With the marine recycling center, the municipality, and the symbiosis center, in collaboration with the local network, aim to develop a permanent, sustainable solution for marine waste and fishing equipment - and shift the perspective from viewing this as a costly problem and challenge to seeing its potential and opportunities for development. The ambition is to contribute to a cleaner sea while creating important job opportunities in collaboration with the labor market unit to help individuals move closer to the job market.

Resources mobilized

Sotenäs Center of Symbiosis belongs to the Department of Business and Development in the municipality. Here, they facilitate and support primary sustainable development through several externally funded innovation- and development projects together with businesses and experts in different areas – e.g., circular economy, test beds ocean litter and expired fishing gear, green business development and aquaculture.

Impact of the symbiosis network

These symbiosis collaborations contribute to meeting societal and industrial needs more sustainably, often by creating improved value from otherwise wasted or underutilized resources. They also have significant potential to contribute to business competitiveness, reduced resource demand and environmental impact, and to sustainable societal developments. These partnerships can contribute to increased business value, improved environmental performance, regional development and stimulate innovation. It’s a way to circular economy and sustainable lifecycles. In addition to more efficient resource management, symbiosis activities contribute to a better relationship and collaboration between different companies and other entities in the municipality. It has made it possible to exchange knowledge, reach a stronger economy in the municipality and region, promote sustainable behavior, create employment and contribute to innovation and research.

For the companies within the network, this means reducing the cost of resources and waste management, increased revenues when value is created from by-products and waste and reducing the burden on one's own system. It also opens new innovative products and services and enables development work that some companies themselves have not been able to carry out. Symbiosis networks create social values between companies and open for new business opportunities.


As the core of the symbiosis network is working with the sea in one way or another, they reach environmental benefits on both local and international level. Research reports has shown that they reduce both eutrophication to the sea and reduce the problem with plastics in the oceans.

Key factors of success

  • Anchoring with local politicians and companies
  • Local entrepreneurship and culture of collaboration
  • Skills of applying for external funding, to create projects and the network of relevant actors
  • Sotenäs municipality has had the courage to speak about the symbiosis development in an early stage of the development which has attracted new actors to the network
  • Skills of connecting “the right” actors to each other
  • Collaboration with academia and consultants
  • Local companies agreed on a common challenges regarding water treatment limitations
  • Regular innovation- and funding systems
  • Test beds



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