Speech: Sarah Kenny at Maritime 2050 launch

Remarks by Maritime UK Vice Chair Sarah Kenny at the launch of Maritime 2050

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In your remarks, Secretary of State, you referenced Brunel, who sits at number 2 in the British public’s top 100 Britons.

I want to talk about number 4, Charles Darwin.

Darwin said: "It is the long history of humankind that those who learned to collaborate most effectively have prevailed”

His assertion that survival is enabled through collaboration is as relevant to industry, as it is individuals.

I want to talk about how collaboration – within industry and with government – should work if we’re to realise the technological opportunities within Maritime 2050.

By touching on three of those opportunities.

The first is automation. The UK is already a leader in the design and manufacture of smaller autonomous vessels, particularly around the south coast. And we’re leading the debate on regulation. And through Maritime 2050 government and industry will deliver three flagship projects, developing technological proofs of concept and provide demonstrations of use cases for smart shipping.

Maritime 2050 will see government develop a new domestic framework for autonomous vessels to enhance testing in our territorial waters.

Government will lead efforts to establish a new proactive and adaptive international regulatory framework for autonomous vessels at the IMO, building upon the work of the Maritime UK regulatory working group, which hosted its international conference last week.

And then, Maritime 2050 will see government and industry working together to achieve the first multi-modal autonomous freight movement through a UK port. The individual applications of the technology are developing, but the communication between modes is vital.

It’s apt that the second technology I talk about is low-carbon technology. This institution in which we stand has set our global sector a massive, progressive challenge. To reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2050. To meet this challenge shipowners, manufacturers, service providers and universities must collaborate. The Industrial Strategy’s Clean Growth focus could offer the opportunity to support such collaborative efforts.

And I’m delighted that we’re broadening our understanding of maritime. Government has estimated the value of the global ocean economy to be $3trn by 2030. Much of that growth will come from exciting new areas such as aquaculture and seabed mining. Maritime 2050 commits the UK to charting its own seabed and then going beyond. Much of the data gathering for this endeavour will come from autonomous vessels, which are already participating in global efforts to map the seabed today. This uncharted frontier offers great potential for British industry and will bring us ever closer to friends and partners in science and academia.

Where companies do come together to collaborate, we should support them, so as to encourage others to do the same. I urge government and industry colleagues to view the creation of MarRI-UK, the first truly national cross-sector vehicle for collaborative maritime research innovation, as a key delivery engine for many of the technology recommendations within Maritime 2050.

We must build a culture of collaboration within our sector, one that does not necessarily have a long tradition of such collaboration. So that requires change. We have made real progress on this, but there is more to do.

In close, I’ll add that Darwin also said that “It is not the strongest of the species that survives,
not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

Colleagues, the future is incredibly exciting. The potential opportunities and rewards are vast.

Maritime 2050 is a plan, with real cross-government buy-in, to direct our efforts.

Let’s change where we need to, let’s collaborate more. We’ll not just survive, but thrive!