New Chair and co-chairs appointed to Maritime UK South West
I am delighted to have been made Chair of Maritime UK South West, and huge thanks to Anthony Payne for all that he’s done over the first 7 years of the cluster’s work. There is a story here, and I first met Anthony and others from across the South West in San Diego in 2015 on one of the first of many Maritime UK SW trade missions. Ironically it took a trade mission overseas to bring stakeholders from across the South West together and since this time we have made great strides forward in building a working partnership that has created evidence to demonstrate our combined strategic investment opportunities in the region, lobbying into government and building a great network via a series of events and communications, which has contributed to far higher profile for our sector and a string of investments including great success in the recent clean maritime calls, the recent £15.6 million for a clean maritime innovation centre in Appledore and the Pioneers Regulator Fund to name but a few. We are in exciting times for the wider blue economy in the South West so I am hugely excited to be working with the team at MUKSW to take this forward.
I am also really pleased that Prof Chris Smith (University of Exeter), and Drystan Jones (Director Port Development Falmouth; Director, General manager, Falmouth Docks & Engineering Company, A&P Group), will now become Co-Chairs. Both Chris and I are also Directors of Marine Tech start-ups, while Drystan represents the largest ship repair complex in the UK. Input from opposite ends of the business spectrum will ensure that Maritime UK South West is very much industry led, while also recognising the key role that our respective research organisations play in driving innovation.
Marine and Maritime have always been close to my heart. In my first South West role back in 1995, I was asked to set up a Marine Thematic Group for the then EC Innovation Relay Centre network, and since then was instrumental in forming the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute at the University of Southampton, and then the Marine Robotics Innovation Centre at the National Oceanography Centre. Now back in the South West, my current role sees me in London on a regular basis, and I am looking forward to continue flying the flag for the entire South West region’s Marine and Maritime sector at the Maritime UK National Council and other fora to influence Government policy and investment.