News: Maritime Regional Cluster Development Programme Annual Report Launched


  • Department for Transport backed initiative delivered through Mersey Maritime and Maritime UK details recent progress 
  • Regional Cluster Development Programme approaches fourth year of activity
  • Focus on regional growth at the heart of future priorities from net zero to innovation, embedded in the ambition of Maritime 2050 
  • Report presented to Maritime UK National Council chaired by its Patron, HRH The Princess Royal

A first Annual Report focused on the delivery of a joint project to support regional growth within the maritime sector has been launched at the latest meeting of the Maritime UK National Council chaired by its Patron, Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal. The meeting took place at Watermen’s Hall, London on Wednesday 07 December 2022. Regional Growth is one of the five identified priority themes of Maritime UK which in turn correspond to key ambitions set out within the government’s Maritime 2050, published in 2019. Maritime UK works with members and government partners to deliver its recommendations and monitor delivery. Practical delivery of the Regional Cluster Development Programme is undertaken by Mersey Maritime, a full regional member of Maritime UK. Chris Shirling-Rooke (Chief Executive Officer) and Simon Eardley (Regional Cluster Development Manager) lead the work, supported by other members of the respective Mersey Maritime and Maritime UK teams. The Department for Transport committed to supporting an initial project in 2019 which was then extended for three years from 2021.

The report covers the period January 2021 to July 2022 and will be reproduced going forward on an annual basis. It details the background and context for the programme; the activity and deliverables of the engagement activity; the work of the Maritime UK Regional Council; a summary of each cluster organisation around the country, both established and in development; an analysis of the economic impact of the maritime sector at a regional level and gives a forward look towards the wider and future priorities of the programme. Case studies and practical impact examples are detailed to demonstrate principles in action to deliver on industry priorities. The core emphasis of the work seeks to build on existing cluster success, and identify new opportunities and the ties between government, industry and academia at both a regional and national level.

Sarah Kenny, Chair of Maritime UK said:

“The coastal regions and nations of the United Kingdom have a critical role to play in the future of the sector and the prosperity of the country. We know they make a substantial contribution to the regional economies in which they sit and that the maritime ecosystem that regional cluster organisations represent contain some of the most productive and innovative workers in the whole country. This programme seeks to bring together the maritime family in a given region, to foster collaboration and encourage the conditions necessary to stimulate jobs and growth. It is vitally important work in the areas that need it most.

“Maritime UK commissioned research in 2021 which revealed coastal communities are set to lose 40 per cent of their young people, with the majority of 18-24-year-olds already planning on moving away. Jobs were cited as the overwhelming reason, with 70% saying they would be more likely to stay if the right opportunities were made available. Regional cluster organisations are almost entirely focused on creating jobs and growth. The work to develop them is essential if our coast is to thrive in the future.”

Chris Shirling-Rooke, CEO of Mersey Maritime, said:

“Mersey Maritime is passionate about the importance and role of regions in the delivery of Maritime 2050 and the wider ambitions of government, such as the delivery of levelling-up. As soon as the opportunity arose to play our part in the delivery of work focused on bringing together the three components necessary for jobs and growth in our regions – industry, academia and government – we seized it.

Maritime regional cluster organisations help increase the profile of their given region and provide a critical pathway of communication and intelligence to government and key industry stakeholders. Using our 20 years of experience as a world leading cluster organisation, we are proud of the impact we’ve had in the Liverpool City Region and recognise the need to spread this best practice model beyond our own specific geographical boundary. This report demonstrates the breadth of that work and we reiterate our ongoing commitment to it today.”

Maritime Minister, Baroness Vere, said:

“I am delighted to learn of the ongoing success of our regional maritime clusters. Our coastal communities are in a prime position to drive growth, decarbonise the industry, and support jobs and training. I look forward to continue working with Maritime UK and the Clusters on our shared ambitions and to secure the future of the British maritime sector.”

Read the Annual Report below.