Mersey Maritime has delivered its third annual Maritime Exchange Conference and is heralding the ‘biggest event yet’ since its inception in 2019. Although originally intended to be one of the first major in-person events within the maritime industry post the Covid-19 lockdown easing, the event went fully virtual with a small audience of speakers at the Maritime Knowledge Hub in Birkenhead on Friday 25th June 2021. The engagement with industry, government and much wider wasn’t diminished in any way with nearly 1200 people known to have tuned into the packed 2.5 hours of keynote speeches and panel discussions which focused on the key themes of a progress report into the delivery of the sector’s Maritime 2050 strategy. As well as viewers from within the United Kingdom, we know the event was viewed extensively across the United States, in several European countries and even as far afield as Abu Dhabi and Kuala Lumpur!
HRH The Princess Royal, Patron of Maritime UK, who published their report, Maritime 2050: Where are we now? as part of the conference, led a major list of contributors to the discussions which included three government ministers, Robert Courts MP (Department for Transport, Maritime), Amanda Solloway MP (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Innovation) and Graham Stuart MP (Department for International Trade, Trade). Maritime industry thought leaders and experts from across the industry debated the themes of People, Innovation, Environment, Regional Growth and Competitiveness. The industry line-up including Chair of Maritime UK and Chief Executive of BMT Group, Sarah Kenny; General Secretary of Nautilus International, Mark Dickinson; CEO of the Society of Maritime Industries, Tom Chant, former Maritime Minister, Nusrat Ghani MP and CEO of the British Ports Association, Richard Ballantyne together with a number of senior officials from the Department for Transport. Key Mersey Maritime members contributing included, Jonathan Taylor (Expleo Group), Kevin Smith (Maritime Digital Hub), Che Murphy (OPS Wind), Vice Admiral Christopher Gardner CBE (Royal Navy), Stephen Carr (Peel Ports Group), Roy Barry (Brabners) and Clive Hickman (Manufacturing Technology Centre).
The Exchange was generously sponsored by Brabners, Nautilus International, OPS Wind and Peel Ports Group and was delivered by Mersey Maritime in partnership with Maritime UK, the Department for Transport and Wirral Council.
To view a recording of the whole conference, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vm3rbFtt130
Opening the conference, HRH The Princess Royal paid tribute to the work of Mersey Maritime and the importance of the industry in the region, remarking:
“Mersey Maritime sits at the heart of the regional and national maritime eco-system. The North West is an iconic maritime region with a global trading gateway for the world with a rich heritage in shipbuilding and engineering. A region that is adapting to the future and is embracing net zero with significant hydrogen and offshore wind projects as well as disruptive technologies.”
Commenting, Chief Executive of Mersey Maritime, Chris Shirling-Rooke said:
“Mersey Maritime is immensely proud to have delivered this major event once again and for it to have been the biggest yet! From the range of senior figures who addressed the conference or contributed to the panel discussions, to the major engagement from businesses and organisations from all around the world, it was fantastic to put the industry front and centre in this way at such a critical time. Our Mersey Maritime Exchange focused on all the major challenges and issues faced by the sector just now as we respond to the need to ‘build back better’ after the Covid-19 pandemic, to focus on the issue of net zero and decarbonisation – which is the biggest challenge of our time – and maximising the opportunity that ‘global Britain’ represents, not least with Liverpool as the UK’s most significant west-facing transatlantic port city.
“Our first Maritime Exchange conference in 2019 came soon after the official launch of Maritime 2050 and we were delighted to contribute to its formulation at the time, particularly as we champion the importance of regional growth and the power of regional cluster organisations such as our own to be significant drivers of jobs, growth and collaboration at a local level. It was fitting that this event took place once again here in the Liverpool City Region as we take stock of the progress made in this critical national strategy and consider future steps. Mersey Maritime reiterates its support for it to see significant progress continue to be made to realise the ambition for our industry in the years ahead.”
On his first visit to the region in-person as the Department for Transport’s Maritime Minister, Robert Courts MP, said:
“Liverpool has a historic maritime heritage, with a great and modern future ahead of it. Working closely with our valued partners on a national level, such as Maritime UK, and on a regional level such as forward-thinking Mersey Maritime, we are realising our Maritime 2050 strategy. With our world-leading companies, dedicated trade organisations, academic institutions and trade unions, we’ve made great strides in implementation already. And there are fantastic opportunities ahead.”
After the conference, the team of keynote speakers visited the site of the £23 million Maritime Knowledge Hub project which will be built around the iconic 19th century hydraulic tower in the Birkenhead docks at Wirral Waters. This major regeneration scheme will see innovation, digitisation and decarbonisation propel the maritime industry forward in the region in the years ahead, sitting at the heart of the Liverpool City Region Freeport announced in the March 2021 Budget.