Nov 7, 2023 | Marine environment & clean shipping news

The European Waterborne Technology Platform (Waterborne TP) met recently with representatives of the waterborne transport sector in the United Kingdom, to discuss the needs for research, development and innovation, and next steps towards competitive, safe, digital and zero-emission waterborne transport.

As the UK is an island nation, shipping and the maritime sectors are among the most important industries to the UK economy, with some 95% of all imports and exports are moved by sea. According to Maritime UK: “shipping is an overwhelming success story for the UK and is renowned for its leadership across the world. The country relies on the £10bn the shipping industry contributes in GDP and it supports 240,000 jobs.”

To discuss the transition to a competitive, safe, digital and zero-emission waterborne transport sector, representatives of the country’s waterborne transport sector met with a delegation of the Waterborne Technology Platform on 06 November 2023. Waterborne TP is the European research and innovation platform for the waterborne industries, providing policy guidance to the European institutions regarding research, development and innovation, as well as the deployment of these innovations.

The discussions are of particular importance for the Partnership on Zero-Emission Waterborne Transport, a co-operation between the European Commission (EC) and Waterborne TP. This Partnership aims to develop and demonstrate zero-emission solutions for all main ship types and services before 2030. The EC has committed to investing up to €530m from Horizon Europe towards the Partnership, and the industry has committed to over €3bn of investments for the period 2021 – 2030.

Eero Lehtovaara, Chair of the Board of Directors, Waterborne TP, said: “Our meeting with the UK waterborne transport sector representatives served to deepen our understanding of the opportunities and challenges in the shift toward competitive, safe, digital, and zero-emission waterborne transport. The UK’s maritime industry leads the way in pioneering innovative shipboard solutions and these discussions have highlighted the importance of research, development, and innovation, providing valuable insights for shaping Waterborne TP’s agenda.”

Louise Mothersole, Horizon Europe UK National Contact Point for Mobility, Global Innovation Lead for Transport Innovate UK added: “On 7th September, the UK Prime Minister announced a new UK-EU agreement on the UK’s association to Horizon Europe and Copernicus. As set out in the EU/UK Joint Statement of 7 September, all projects within the Horizon Europe work programme for 2024 and beyond will be funded by the UK’s association to Horizon Europe. This is a fantastic opportunity for the UK maritime sector to develop deep collaborative relationships with the European waterborne sector to solve some of the most significant challenges around decarbonising shipping whilst working together to maintain competitive advantage for the whole European supply chain.”

Diane Gilpin, founder and CEO of Smart Green Shipping, concluded: “The climate and nature crises we face now are the greatest threat to our civilisation whilst at the same time offering great opportunities to create new, valuable clean solutions. It is my view that we can only work at the scale and speed we need through deep and authentic collaboration. This is why Smart Green Shipping works across the entire shipping eco-system, from naval architects to cargo-owners. Working with InnovateUK support and colleagues at Waterborne we benefit from a wider pool of knowledge, connections, and experience to help us solve challenges as they arise. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a better future, to regenerate European shipping and shipbuilding and to reap the financial rewards from being ambitious and courageous.”

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