KTN's activity in the maritime sector

Posted on: 12/07/2019

KTN’s Marine and Rail Manager starts a series of articles looking at the UK maritime sector.

The UK is a maritime nation: its history is clear, but what about the future?


The Maritime Futures programme seeks to understand the future shape of the UK maritime sector through the exploration of a broad range of drivers of change, ascertaining which areas will have the greatest impact.

The programme draws on a wide range industry and government policy papers: examples include Government Office for Science Future of the Sea, Maritime 2050 Strategy, British Marine’s Futures programme, Technology Trends 2030 and British Ports Futures programme.


In March 2019 the KTN, together with BMT, under the auspices of Maritime UK’s Technology and Innovation Group (TIG) held a workshop to further explore the challenges arising from the Maritime 2050 Strategy.  The outputs are to be used as a basis for developing an agenda from which a co-ordinated and prioritised innovation programme could be developed for MarRI-UK, as the vehicle for taking forward the national maritime research agenda.

The key themes to emerge from the workshop were:

  • Environment – covering emissions, alternative fuels and propulsion systems, power management, ballast and waste water, biofouling and noise.

  • Skills and training – given increased automation, digitisation, data analytics and AI (Artificial Intelligence) there was considerable urgency in identifying future skill needs, putting in place appropriate training, and having a pipeline of inspired people with skills at all levels.

  • Collaboration across all sectors of the diverse marine / maritime sphere to achieve efficiencies and remain a global presence.  The sharing of data, information and knowledge was seen as key, covering environmental technologies, business models, skills and training programmes, data standards and management.

  • Security, safety and resilience – this is particularly associated with increased automation, digitisation and data management, but also focuses on the human element, removing them from danger in the harsh maritime environment, enabled by automation, simulations and AR/VR. Given the face pace of technological change, regulation was seen as important in order to underpin safety and resilience.

  • Autonomy, information and digital themes were central to the discussions; seen as potential solutions to the other issues raised.  For example, reducing environmental impact, helping to alleviate the skills gap, or take the human out of the loop.  However, as noted, they bring their own issues of, for example, security and need for training.

  • Ports, as gateways between sea and land, and a focus for collaborative activities, need to become more efficient in their operations and decrease their environmental impact.

Future blogs will examine the current situation, technologies and progress being made on the themes raised in the workshop.

Ian Stock, Knowledge Transfer Manager, Marine and Rail, KTN


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