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Maritime UK published the second Annual Report into its government backed Regional Cluster Development Programme at the Global Maritime Hub held yesterday (14 September) as part of London International Shipping Week 2023 (LISW). 

According to Maritime UK, the report is a timely one as the ‘renewed focus on the importance of regional cluster organisations’ has been confirmed with a major funding boost from the UK’s Department for Transport.

Speaking at the LISW Regional Showcase event, the UK Maritime Minister, Baroness Vere, announced a £1million fund to support the work of regional cluster organisations charged with the delivery of Maritime 2050 in their localities. 

In a statement issued yesterday, Maritime UK said: ‘The fund demonstrates the commitment of HM Government to support the maritime industries’ ambition to forge a cleaner, greener, and more vibrant industry around the coastal communities of the United Kingdom. The significant funding allocation will help to accelerate the development of maritime clusters across the country, helping to drive collaboration between industry, academia and government, key to delivering economic growth and jobs in the sector while meeting environmental goals.’

Maritime UK’s second Annual Report on the Regional Cluster Development Programme covers the period July 2022 to June 2023. It details the background and context for the programme; the activity and deliverables of the engagement activity; the work of the Maritime UK Regional Council; a summary of each cluster organisation around the country; an analysis of the economic impact of the maritime sector at a regional level and gives a forward look towards the wider and future priorities of the programme.

Chris Shirling-Rooke, Chief Executive Officer, Maritime UK, commented: ‘We are a proud island nation with a long and exceptional history. But our industry has never sat on its hands when faced with profound change and turbulence, be that from challenging economic times or the massive drive to deliver net zero and the decarbonisation of the maritime sector. The coastal regions and nations of the United Kingdom have a critical role to play in the future of the sector and the prosperity of the country. We know they make a substantial contribution to the regional economies in which they sit and that the maritime ecosystem that regional cluster organisations represent contain some of the most productive and innovative workers in the whole country. Since 2019, the programme activity outlined in this second Annual Report has sought to foster collaboration at a regional level with the primary purpose of encouraging the conditions necessary to stimulate jobs and growth. It is vitally important work in the areas that need it most.’

Shirling-Rooke continued: ‘We are delighted to see the announcement from the Maritime Minister of an unprecedented boost in funding for our vital coastal communities in the form of a £1 million Cluster Development Fund. We believe strongly that accelerating the development of our maritime clusters will support our coastal communities and help our maritime sector to deliver economic benefits both regionally and nationally. The backing of HM Government in this way is a tribute to the incredible work that our existing regional teams are engaged with and the opportunities this focus on regional growth can bring in all coastal areas to boost economic growth, skills, and jobs, in turn helping to ‘level-up’ the country. We look forward to working with our close colleagues in Government to drive this vitally important work forward in the coming months and years.

‘Maritime regional cluster organisations help increase the profile of their given region and provide a critical pathway of communication and intelligence to government and key industry stakeholders. This new report demonstrates the breadth of the engagement with regional cluster development and points to how our coastal communities are in a prime position to drive growth, decarbonise the industry, and support jobs and training.’

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