Companies invited to join new UK centre for maritime research and innovation

By: Ben Murray

020 7417 2837

Maritime UK, the umbrella body for the sector, is inviting companies to register interest in joining a new national initiative for maritime research and innovation.

The initiative, Maritime Research & Innovation UK (or “MarRI-UK”), will provide a collaborative innovation vehicle for UK industry and academia to jointly tackle challenges including autonomy and green shipping.

The project is currently led by foundation partners comprising eight companies, four universities, and one trade association, who came together to address the current lack of coordination and resource in the maritime research and development, particularly compared to competitor maritime hubs in Scandinavia and the Far East.

Using a hub-and-spoke model, drawing upon research and innovation assets across the country, MarRI-UK is now at a stage where other companies and institutions are being invited to join and shape the innovation agenda before formal launch.

Partners within MarRI-UK have already submitted a collaborative proposal to the UK government Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, and further funding proposals are a key objective for the centre.

The UK government’s Maritime Growth Study review recognised the need for greater industry focus on collaborative research and innovation. That call was repeated in its Foresight Future of the Sea report for the government chief scientist, which estimated the value of the ‘blue economy’ jumping to $3tn by 2030. The report recommended greater coordination and a more long-term focus in research and innovation is needed in order for the UK to capitalise on emerging opportunities.

Identified applications for joint collaboration currently include seabed mapping, autonomy, and green shipping. The IMO’s target to reduce carbon emissions from shipping by 50% by 2050 gives added focus to the challenge of reducing shipping’s impact on the environment. Once established, the centre will focus on any number of agreed challenges.

Companies will be able to join at one of three membership tiers relevant to their position and size. Registrations of interest are now open via the Maritime UK website.

John Howie, Chief Executive, Babcock’s Marine Sector and Chair of MarRI-UK said:

“The sector coming together and collaborating on innovation, research and development is crucial to the future success of our marine industry in the UK. 

“I am delighted MarRI-UK is providing this platform that will make it easy for our organisations to share ideas and integrate the roadmaps, business cases and resources we need to develop this country’s maritime technologies, responding to the growing global demand for safe, green and cost-effective ships and systems.”

David Dingle, Chairman of Maritime UK said:

“Maritime UK has brought together the UK’s trade associations and others to collaborate and achieve more together than they do alone. Much has been achieved in terms of delivering a more coherent and compelling message to government and others across the world, but there is more to do.

“That’s particularly true in terms of research and innovation. And that’s where this new centre comes in.

“Effectively serving as the research and innovation arm of Maritime UK, the new vehicle will enable the sector to collaborate like never before and to bid for various funding streams that exist, and on which we currently often miss out.

“From a shipowners’ perspective, and looking specifically at green shipping, whoever cracks this challenge will reap the rewards.”

Ben Murray, Director of Maritime UK said:

“We have often looked to other sectors and envied their success in attracting significant sums for research and innovation.

“In reality, we’ve been on the back foot because we’ve lacked a collaborative vehicle solely focused on research and innovation, similar to the Faraday Institution’s work on car batteries, for instance.

“MarRI-UK changes that and we urge UK companies from across the sector – shipping, ports, services, engineering and leisure marine – to get involved.

“Together we achieve more than we do alone. There are huge and exciting global opportunities for the sector to focus on, and we mustn’t miss our chance.”

  • Full details and registrations of interest can be found on the Maritime UK website.
  • Foundation partners: Babcock, BAE, BMT, Cammell Laird, Lloyd’s Register, QinetiQ, Rolls Royce, Shell, Newcastle University, University of Southampton, University of Strathclyde, University College London, Society of Maritime Industries.


More information and register interest