UK establishes centre for maritime innovation and technology

UK establishes centre for maritime innovation and technology

A consortium of British companies, academia and government, have established a new national centre (MarRI-UK) to provide a collaborative innovation vehicle to jointly tackle innovation and technology challenges.

Based at the University of Strathclyde, with hubs to be announced across the UK, the centre’s first focus will be on Clean Maritime. MarRI-UK will focus on research and innovation within mid technology readiness levels (TRL) 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.

The consortium believes that a maritime sector strengthened by MarRI-UK will help the co-ordination of research across the 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 has worked collaboratively with Maritime UK to attain support and secure funding from the UK Government through different streams.

In March 2019, the 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 £1 million competition for innovative ways to reduce maritime emissions on behalf of DfT.

MarRI-UK is now inviting other organisations 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.

“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,” said Sarah Kenny, vice chair of Maritime UK and CEO of BMT.

“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.

“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,” Ms Kenny added.

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.”