Industry experts and thought leaders came together last week for Mersey Maritime’s second ‘Maritime Exchange’ Conference which was held virtually for the first time.
Launched in 2019, this event was developed in response to the Government’s Maritime 2050 report that sets out the long-term strategy for the UK maritime sector, which is annually worth over £4bn in Merseyside alone. Although it wasn’t possible to hold the event in a physical form as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the conference was actually much larger in reach with delegates joining from across the world, as well as from within the Liverpool City Region and the UK more generally. Latest analysis from the conference suggests some 255 individuals tuning in across the afternoon of activities.
The event was also Mersey Maritime’s contribution to a week-long national spotlight on the industry in the form of Maritime UK Week, an opportunity to show how vital the sector is to the prosperity of the nation as a whole and the impact it has at a regional level too, both during times of crisis and when life is more ‘normal.’ The conference focused on some of the core themes, opportunities and challenges the industry has faced over the last six months with regards to global coronavirus pandemic, with panels centred on mental health and wellbeing and the current and future opportunities around technology and innovation within the sector. Testament to the profile of Mersey Maritime as the UK’s leading maritime cluster organisation, the afternoon was also supported by newly appointed Maritime Minister, Robert Courts MP, his predecessor in the role, Nusrat Ghani MP, and key figures such as Sarah Kenny, Chief Executive of BMT and Chair-elect of Maritime UK.
Core to the afternoon was a significant announcement and update on the project to deliver the second phase of the Maritime Knowledge Hub project at Peel Land and Property’s Wirral Waters site in Birkenhead. The Maritime Exchange effectively fired the starting gun on the project which has long been planned since its announcement at London International Shipping Week in 2014. A strong call for businesses and organisations to get in touch to express their interest in being part of the project was made and immediately responded to. Confidence is high that the coming months will see ‘spades in the ground’ and building work underway.
Commenting, Chief Executive of Mersey Maritime, Chris Shirling-Rooke said:
“We knew we had to do something dynamic, interesting and different for our wide Mersey Maritime membership this year for our Maritime Exchange Conference. Of course we would have preferred to come together in a physical format but we worked hard with our events partner, Meet and Potato, to deliver a high quality and fully interactive virtual event which was well supported by key maritime industry leaders from across the sector. Whilst Covid-19 has dominated the news agenda for many months now, we were keen to both reflect on the impact it has had on the industry but also look to the future. That’s why our sessions were a mix of topical reflection on the theme of ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing’ and the ways employees have needed to respond to this in light of the pandemic and a sense of how it has also been ‘business as normal’ for many maritime companies with an ongoing focus on technology and innovation projects which formed the basis of our other main session. Whatever the challenges that Covid-19 has presented for us, we know that the big existential challenges, like decarbonisation, remain with us and the maritime sector is stepping up to the mark to address them.
“It was essential for us to also have an opportunity to update our members and the wider industry on our plans, working in partnership with a range of stakeholders, on the Maritime Knowledge Hub Project. This is finally about to become a reality and we remain 100% committed to bringing it about in the immediate future. This project is critical to the future of maritime in our region, which we know makes such a big contribution to the local economy. The potential for it to be even more so is that if we truly grasp the opportunity to build a collaborative hub for skills, business support and development, with a real focus on the topical issues of the time such as decarbonisation and how we propel the industry forward to help the government meet its ambition of net zero by 2050. The Maritime Knowledge Hub can and will make a real impact – it will be at the cutting edge of this work – and we are incredibly proud to be at the centre of this activity. Interest has already been strong so our shout out is to make sure those who want to be part of this journey get on board now!
“We are proud to have set a high bar for an event such as this and look forward to delivering more for our members along these lines in the months ahead. It is testament to the quality and format of the sessions that the retention rate for people tuning in was so high and that we had nearly 200 people present for it overall. Using innovative technology, such as the ‘Mentimeter’ voting platform, we were able to engage those attending in real time for their thoughts on the subjects under discussion. Seeing this happen in real time and the importance of a particular point of view move over the course of the session was fascinating!
“Feedback continues to be very positive indeed and proves that in the ‘new normal’ it is possible to engage professionally and properly on a range of topics of interest to industry and a wider audience. We are confident this is just the start of Mersey Maritime using this format for future events and we are delighted to be leading the way amongst our industry in a hybrid format for conferences of this nature.”
Did you miss out on viewing the event last week? A full recording of the proceedings is now available here:
Individual sessions can be found at the following points in the YouTube video link:
- Keynote speech – Robert Courts MP, Maritime Minister: 08:15:00
- Mental Health and Wellbeing Panel: 21:00:00
- Maritime Knowledge Hub Project update: 1:27:00
- Keynote speech – Sarah Kenny, Chair-elect of Maritime UK: 2:04:00
- Technology and Innovation Panel: 2:20:00