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The University of Southampton
Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute

Solving challenges and improving efficiency

SMMI produces knowledge through research. Our aim is to help the marine and maritime sectors develop their use of research and innovation to improve productivity, economic growth and sustainability. The knowledge we produce through our research is also used to train the next generation of professionals.

SMMI works with organisations of all sizes and types in many different ways. For example, our work with large companies is helping to tackle some of the major challenges facing the marine environment and society at large, whilst our engagement with local companies seeks to maximise their competitiveness on the global stage to ensure wealth creation and new employment for the region and the wider UK.

Here are the main areas we can help you with. For other issues, contact us here.


Safety, risk & regulation

Improving safety is the key driver for maritime technology. Our unique partnership with Lloyd 's Register global classification society puts us at the forefront of this field. This area brings together engineering, legal and environmental disciplines, and also human factors, a new but increasingly important facet of improving safety.


Impact, culture & heritage

Humans have an inextricable link to the oceans; minimising human impact on the ocean is vital for a sustainable future. New marine technologies, such as offshore renewables, need to impose minimal impact on the marine environment. Preservation of maritime culture and heritage is crucial for learning about how our relationship with the oceans has evolved.


Environment modelling & mapping

We know less about the ocean than we do about the moon and Mars. Mapping the ocean relies on new technologies to collect data (eg autonomous underwater vessels), complex ecosystem modelling, sample analyses, and policy and regulation development to share resources. We can help untap some of the vast economic opportunities in a responsible, sustainable manner.


Big data & cybersecurity

Access to ever increasing volumes of ocean data allows us to develop more realistic models and projections of the marine environment and processes. We can also track ships and other objects to help improve the efficiency of trade and transport. But new data management systems need to be secure; our Cybersecurity Academy is working to address this.


Vessel design & performance

Modern vessels need to be safe, efficient and environmentally friendly. New flexible hull forms, advanced materials, alternative propulsion systems and fuel types offer exciting opportunities. Advances in autonomy will open up new opportunities for optimised control and could revolutionise ship design and operation. We are at the forefront of these technological advances.


Tourism, ports & logistics

Over 90% of global trade is shipped by sea. Ports are important gateways for trade and tourism and as demand increases, moving people and cargo around safely and efficiently becomes ever more complex. Advanced mathematics is being used to develop algorithms to enable port operators and supply chain managers to improve the efficiency of operations, thereby reducing cost and minimising impact.


Robotics & autonomous systems

Autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles could revolutionise the marine/maritime sector. Capitalising on this revolution needs underpinning research both in technology and regulation, ensuring safety, reliability and efficiency. We have capacity in air, surface, and underwater systems, plus autonomy in existing control systems to improve efficiency. Design, control systems and application are all emerging areas of business.


Energy & resources

The potential for energy and resource extraction from the ocean is vast: from oil and gas extraction, to wind, wave and tidal energy generation, fishing and aquaculture and seabed mining. This is a very exciting area of potential economic growth but it needs careful management. Aligning with a respected academic institution can add important credibility to development opportunities.


Materials, structures & testing

New materials offer many advantages, being lightweight, durable, sustainable, and when embedded with sensors, intelligent too. SMMI has a strong focus in advanced composites and is helping to secure their wider adoption in the marine and maritime sectors. Making the transition to advanced materials will require new insights and maybe new business models too.

Collaborative research

There are many ways to begin collaborative research including various UK and EU funded programmes. SMMI can help to find the right academics and the best funding mechanisms to suit your ideas whether they are short term, focused projects or more fundamental longer-term research. Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) are government funded instruments designed to help businesses improve their competitiveness, productivity and performance through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills.


We have a long-established reputation of interacting with industry with a highly regarded commercial focus and professional approach. The University has specialist consultancy units dedicated to working with business.

Longer-term strategic partnerships

As research collaborations evolve some organisations take advantage of establishing a framework for organising research and consultancy projects quickly and easily. SMMI has model agreements designed to reduce the administration involved in multiple projects.

Facilities, equipment and expertise

Accessing our wide range of state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, with the associated technical expertise on its use, can save businesses time, money and reduce the risks of investing in new equipment.

Student projects

An easy, cost effective and low risk way to get started is through a student project. This can be as part of a degree programme or as a summer internship.

Innovate UK and EU Funding

SMMI has a long history of successful projects in both marine science and maritime engineering funded by Innovate UK, formerly the Technology Strategy Board (TSB). We also have extensive experience of EU funding. Our projects enable businesses to develop innovative products supporting economic growth. (Click the title for a list of our projects).

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For all your business needs, and a discussion about how we could assist, contact us for more information.
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