Maritime Growth Summit 2023 in Liverpool – a great success!

Blog by Simon Eardley – Head of Partnerships & Policy, Mersey Maritime

Mersey Maritime was delighted to be present at a major Connected Places Catapult ‘Maritime Growth Summit’ when it came to Liverpool in November 2023.

The event, attended by over 180 people drawn from across industry, academia and other organisations, focused on investing in the future of maritime and sought to showcase the best of UK maritime innovation, challenges and outcomes as well as providing opportunities for collaboration and co-operation. Some 22 speakers gave a range of dynamic presentations and in the breakout area numerous SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) and other organisations were able to demonstrate what they are particularly championing as the latest innovation activity. Ruth Wood, Chief Executive of Mersey Maritime, was invited to speak at the summit, offering the closing address focused on leadership in maritime – more on that at the end of this blog.

The maritime and ports sector represents critical industry for the economic prosperity of the country and for an island nation such as the UK is the most significant means for us to keep ourselves fed, fuelled and supplied. It is the gateway to some of the biggest challenges facing the world today, and presents innovation opportunities to deliver sustainable, equitable growth for our communities and economies. It doesn’t come without significant challenges though with one speaker reminding the assembled audience that by 2040, if we don’t make significant and rapid progress towards decarbonisation of the industry, it will represent 70% of global emissions – an unpalatable and unsustainable reality. Such facts and challenges can appear daunting, but they can also represent significant opportunities for entrepreneurs, innovators and those are the forefront of technological change.

Two significant Mersey Maritime members who are making real and substantial difference to the decarbonisation challenge in the industry were given the opportunity to speak about their exciting and crucial work. First up was CEO of Bibby Marine, Nigel Quinn, who gave an in-depth description of the energy transition focus that the business is undertaking, often building on the wider historic legacy and insights that such a recognised name in the maritime industry is able to offer. Wind power was the dominant ‘energy source’ 200 years ago and it may well have a significant part to play in the future – a ‘circular’ economy in action. Nigel then detailed specific examples of how Bibby Marine are maximising opportunities from funding that has been made available by UK SHORE, the government office for the decarbonisation of maritime industry, and also the investment they are prepared to put on the table themselves alongside their consortia partners. Announced during London International Shipping Week, Bibby Marine and its partners were successful in achieving a funding award from the Zero Emission Vessel and Infrastructure Competition (ZEVI). This trailblazing initiative will see the construction of the world’s first zero emission electric Service Operation Vessel (eSOV) – 100% battery operated. It is expected that by 2030, over 200 vessels of this kind, doing essential work amongst the offshore wind farms around the coast, will be needed. Read more HERE

Next up was David Kennedy-Browne from Maersk, one of the world’s most recognisable and globally significant integrated logistics companies. Every single day, Maersk are responsible for moving 20% of all the world’s fuel, materials and goods – the importance of their efforts to reduce their footprint on the planet isn’t to be underestimated and will make a real and tangible difference to the environment. Maersk prides itself on offering global and local logistics solutions that enable small and large businesses to grow, regarding of industry, commodity or key markets but they do so with a sharp focus on sustainability and good environmental stewardship. David was able to go into some detail around the progress they are making, delivering solutions at pace and in an inspirationally dynamic way. Earlier this year, the company launched their landmark bio-methanol vessel, Laura Maersk, and expect 25% of their fleet to be fuelled in this way by 2030. The vessel itself represents a 70% reduction in fossil fuels in terms of its operation and was in the sea seven years ahead of schedule, having been first ordered in 2021 and in service this year. Read more HERE

Collaboration and cross sector working was very much the theme running throughout the day. It is one of the driving principles of Mersey Maritime with our overall ambition to champion the Liverpool City Region and wider North West maritime ecosystem and put into practice how we are ‘Stronger Together.’ Closing the conference in a keynote speech entitled ‘Leadership in Action’, our CEO, Ruth Wood thanked the CPC for a fantastic and informative day which left those in attendance full of new ideas and opportunities to pick up on, collaborate and deliver progress around for the good of the industry going forward. It was particularly good to see the summit come to Liverpool; a region with one of the longest, richest and most vibrant maritime sectors’ in the whole of the country which makes a substantial contribution to the local economy – representing over £5.6 billion in business turnover and supporting over 48,000 jobs. Ruth reflected on the many ways in which Mersey Maritime seeks to foster collaboration within the industry at a local, regional, national and even international level. It is at the core of what we do and has seen real change delivered in recent months. She left everyone with an upbeat final message: “We all have a role to play in championing the maritime sector and encouraging innovation and collaboration. Mersey Maritime will continue to bang the drum for the sector, building on the existing relationship and supporting new relationships that help us to meet our goals. I encourage you all to share your ideas, collaborate and inspire your industry peers to grow their maritime network. Together we are stronger.” For Ruth and Mersey Maritime, leadership in action aligns well to the core principles of our organisation. With many maritime leaders in the room at this event, there was a timely emphasis on how across industry we must create as far as possible a dynamic team of leaders to drive the ongoing change that is needed to deliver on challenging, often risky, objectives in the innovation space.

  • You can watch a short highlights video, compiled by the Connected Places Catapult team, HERE 
  • Find out more about the Connected Places Catapult HERE
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Invitation to 12 Face-2-Face breakfast events
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