Maritime UK Solent and business leaders showcase success of region’s maritime cluster to the Department for Transport

Anne-Marie Mountifield, Chair of Maritime UK Solent, with Victoria Race, Deputy Director of Maritime Policy, Department for Transport

Maritime experts from the Department for Transport (DfT) met with some of the Solent’s maritime business leaders on a fact-finding visit organised by Maritime UK Solent in partnership with Red Funnel and Wight Shipyard Company (as a subsidiary of OCEA Group).

The regional engagement event welcomed a team from the DfT including Deputy Director of Maritime Strategy and Programmes, Victoria Race, and Head of Strategy, Catherine Cornwell, to Wight Shipyard in East Cowes on the Isle of Wight on 12 June.

Maritime UK Solent, Managing Director, Stuart Baker, said: “We were delighted to meet with the delegation from the Department for Transport and everybody agreed it was an extremely productive afternoon which provided an important opportunity for maritime businesses to connect directly with Government officials. Our power is in our network, and we are so grateful for our businesses giving up their time to make this session a success.

“Discussions were held with representatives from some of our region’s leading maritime businesses. The DfT guests were able to get a clear overview of how the Solent maritime cluster is thriving through local innovation and commitment and a better understanding of the outstanding opportunity that exists here in the Solent to grow the UK’s maritime sector.

“The DfT visit recognised the outstanding success of the Solent’s world-class maritime sector and its position at the forefront of innovation and decarbonisation. We look forward to working closely with the DfT to ensure the Solent maritime sector continues to succeed.”

The visit included over 20 Solent maritime industry representatives who came together to discuss key business activity in the region and to find out what additional support the Government may be able to offer to strengthen the Solent’s Maritime sector and help it grow and innovate.

Particular topics of interest included the Solent’s maritime innovation strengths of autonomous, connected and clean maritime, the skills the sector needs, and opportunities for growth.

Victoria Race, Deputy Director of Maritime Strategy and Programmes at the Department for Transport, said: “Thank you to Maritime UK Solent for hosting such an informative visit. The breadth of the sector and the skills, commitment and creativity of the people that the sector depends on makes maritime clusters like Solent so important not only to delivering our Maritime 2050 strategy but also to wider government commitments to grow the economy and support levelling up across the UK. We have seen excellent examples of this throughout the day and very much welcome the opportunity to strengthen relationships across a range of important issues.”

Graham Barnetson, Chief Financial Officer at Red Funnel and Vice-Chair of Maritime UK Solent, added: “We were delighted to welcome colleagues from across the Solent’s maritime sector and visitors from the DfT on board today, with the crossing from Southampton to East Cowes providing an ideal opportunity to explore the challenges and opportunities we share across the industry. One of the strengths of Maritime UK Solent is its diversity, demonstrated today by the range of organisations from large businesses, SMEs, and education providers who gave their time today to discuss how innovation, decarbonisation and training will ensure the continued success of our regional maritime cluster.”

Ken Houlberg, Chief Executive Officer at Wight Shipyard Company Ltd and OCEA(UK), said: “It was great to see the maritime community come together today because together, we can find solutions to bigger problems. What we are do here in the Solent is something special. We are the maritime hub of the UK, with some unique expertise. We have a proud historical tradition of innovation and we have a depth and breadth of maritime expertise like no other in the country. I particularly welcome the DfT coming to see the difference Government investment has made, creating direct jobs and, in turn, indirect jobs, and providing much needed opportunities for our local communities.”

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