News: New UK centre for maritime innovation and technology established

  • UK government publish Clean Maritime Plan to reduce emissions
  • New centre to run competition for innovative ways to reduce maritime emissions
  • Companies invited to join new initiative from August

A consortium of British companies, academia and government, have formally established a new national centre for maritime innovation and technology (“MarRI-UK”). The centre, offering exciting development opportunities for the UK’s £40bn maritime sector, is based at the University of Strathclyde, with hubs to be announced across the UK. The centre will provide a collaborative innovation vehicle to jointly tackle innovation and technology challenges.

The first area of collaborative focus is Clean Maritime. MarRI-UK will focus on research and innovation within mid TRL (3 – 7) levels to address the opportunities between “discovery and research” and “commercialisation” of maritime technologies and systems. It will develop a structured, coherent, and comprehensive approach leading to national and regional development and economic growth.

A maritime sector strengthened by MarRI-UK will help the co-ordination of research across the maritime sector by giving an understanding of commercial opportunities aligned to a shared roadmap. This will underpin government initiatives and investment and support the wider prosperity agenda linked to innovation.

Eight maritime companies (Babcock, BAE Systems, BMT Group, Cammell Laird, Lloyd’s Register, QinetiQ, Rolls-Royce and Shell),supported by the Society of Maritime Industries, and four universities (Newcastle, Southampton, Strathclyde and UCL) have been working to develop MarRI-UK since 2013. Led by Patrick Carnie of Babcock Marine and Technology and Professor Alex Duffy of the University of Strathclyde, the consortium have worked collaboratively with Maritime UK to attain support and secure funding from the UK Government through different streams. 

In March 2019, this unique initiative gained government recognition when the Department for Transport (DfT), alongside investment from Babcock and BMT, agreed to fund the establishment of MarRI-UK. MarRI-UK is now launching a £1M competition for innovative ways to reduce maritime emissions on behalf of DfT.

The competition was announced today in London by the Maritime Minister, Nusrat Ghani as part of The Clean Maritime Plan, an ambitious plan set out by the Minister to cut pollution from the country’s maritime sector.

MarRI-UK is now at a stage where other organisations are being invited to join as a member and shape the research and innovation agenda. Membership will be opened to all UK industries of different sizes from August.

Sarah Kenny, Vice Chair of Maritime UK and CEO of BMT, said:

“The Clean Maritime Plan is an important step towards achieving a zero-emission future for the UK. Getting to net zero will not be easy, but it will present significant opportunities as well as the obvious challenges for all parts of our £40bn maritime sector. Maritime is already the greenest way of moving freight, but we can and must do more to reduce emissions.

 “The good news is that the UK is well-placed to not only decarbonise our own economy, but also to share our expertise and capability with the rest of the world as they, too, embark on this most global of missions.

 “For the first time, companies and universities from across the country have come together to collaborate through MarRI-UK, accelerating the UK’s maritime technological capabilities, particularly on decarbonisation.

 “The key ingredient to realising our clean maritime ambitions is collaboration. Between companies, academia and with government. Today’s plan and government’s broader Maritime 2050 strategy, crafted with Maritime UK, provides a framework to do just that.”

Professor Alex Duffy from the University of Strathclyde, said:

“If you want to remain at the forefront of advancements, benefit from the collaborative network synergy, gain streamlined access to research and innovation expertise across the UK and help set the agenda and influence government policy, then MarRI-UK is for you. We are looking for sector-spanning pioneers to join MarRI-UK and spark change that will lead the way for the maritime sector of the future.”

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