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Consultation response | Maritime Growth Study

Maritime Growth Study

Maritime Growth Study Inquiry

Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute

A response from the University of Southampton | February 2017

Read the call for evidence Download the response

Written evidence submitted by Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute, University of Southampton

Introduction

1. Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute (SMMI), in the University of Southampton, is a unique, internationally recognised centre of excellence for research, innovation and education. Our work spans both the natural ocean environment (marine) and human use of the seas (maritime). We are a community of over 1,000 academics and research scholars from across the University, whose interests and research are linked to the marine/maritime realm. By working across the traditional disciplinary divides, we can better address some of today’s global marine and maritime challenges.

2. Our ambition is to become the world’s leading institute for marine and maritime research, innovation and education. We are achieving this by creating interdisciplinary, cross-sector partnerships both inside and outside the university covering humanities, natural, physical and social sciences. Knowledge generated through our collaborative research is applied in our teaching to create the next generation of marine and maritime professionals.

3. Though we are very research focused our original submission to the Maritime Growth Study reflected our interests in education.
Education, Skills and Training

4. The Maritime Growth Study recommended the creation of a Maritime Skills Investment Fund aligned where possible to the Apprenticeship Levy. SMMI supports this recommendation and is making its own progress towards developing and implementing a Maritime MBA. This will provide graduates with both technical and business skills ready for employment in the maritime sector. The opportunity to develop the Maritime MBA in conjunction with the Apprenticeship Levy is an attractive proposition currently being explored.

5. The Apprenticeship Levy scheme operates up to doctoral level so there is opportunity for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to coordinate their offerings at degree, post-graduate and doctoral levels for the maximum benefit of the sector. These offerings can then be factored into the existing set of courses collated by the Maritime Skills Alliance thus providing, for the first time, a complete set of professional and educational courses from Level 1 to Level 7.

6. To achieve this will probably require appropriate level HEI representation on key skills organisations. It is notable that none of the 16 members of the Maritime Skills Alliance is a HEI. Only one UK HEI is a member of the International Association of Maritime Institutions. SMMI is willing to offer its support in helping to coordinate HE input to the various maritime skills initiatives to ensure that the HE contribution to the development of maritime sector skills is fully incorporated.

Innovation

7. The Maritime Growth Study acknowledges the vital role that innovation plays in maintaining and enhancing the sector, particularly in terms of maximising its export potential. However, it stops short of making specific recommendations.

8. Investing in science, research and innovation is the first of ten pillars supporting HM Government’s Green Paper for consultation on Building Our Industrial Strategy published in January 2017. Pillar eight refers to the need to cultivate world-leading sectors by building on areas of existing competitive advantage. This highlights aerospace, automotive, the life sciences, the creative industries, digital, financial services and professional and business services as examples. Clearly the maritime sector is not yet in the Government’s line of sight as a world-leading sector despite much economic evidence to suggest otherwise. This is disappointing.

9. The general trend, as witnessed by the reorganisation of Innovate UK (IUK) appears to be focusing on innovation support for specific themes rather than industrial sectors. This will inevitably increase competition between sectors for topics such as advanced materials, enabling and emerging technologies such as robotics, autonomy and artificial intelligence. If the maritime sector does not have the presence of its aerospace and automotive counterparts then there is a real danger that innovation funding to the maritime sector will be diminished.

10. The Marine Industries Leadership Council (MILC) Technology and Innovation Group remains the primary mechanism by which HEI input to the maritime sector’s innovation planning. SMMI hosted one of the Technology Roadmap events. However, in our opinion, this body alone is unlikely to be able to reap all the science, research and innovation benefits offered by the UK’s maritime research community.

11. If funded, the proposed National Maritime Research Centre (NMRC) will go some way to preventing a serious deficit in innovation funding for the maritime sector. We encourage the various parts of government with an interest in the maritime sector to support this bid as enthusiastically as possible.

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