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An industry view: how technology will shape the future of the sea

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We interviewed leaders of the UK’s marine and maritime industries to find out how emerging technology will affect their sectors.

As the developers and adopters of new technologies, industry plays a central role in shaping the future of the UK’s marine and maritime interests.

Foresight decided to seek out the experiences of UK-based businesses to help to build the evidence base for our Future of the Sea project. From defence to energy, we interviewed people from a range of sectors who are at the forefront of developing and deploying marine technology. We asked them what they think the key challenges and opportunities will be in this area. Here are four things they told us.

A table listing 11 companies and the trend they are associated with: Babcock, Cammell Laird, Lloyds Register, Rolls-Royce, BAE systems, Gardline, ASV Global, Inmarsat, UK Seabed Resources, Shell, DONG Energy.
We interviewed 11 leading companies who are each affected by an emerging trend that will shape the UK’s future relationship with the sea.
  1. Climate Change is a major driver of innovation

The need to reduce emissions is a major driver of innovation, influencing everything from the design of ships to the use of data. In addition, the continued decarbonisation of energy will create opportunities in offshore wind, and other offshore renewables.

  1. Automation will be transformative

The emergence of autonomous systems will change how ships are piloted and create new opportunities to explore the deep sea. While the speed and impact of this transformation remains uncertain, companies acknowledged the need for improved data connectivity and extensive testing in order to fully capitalise on the opportunity.

  1. The UK’s current strengths will help us capitalise on emerging technology

The UK has a long history of marine and maritime leadership and engineering expertise, both of which will support sectors in capitalising on emerging technologies. In particular, some of our interviewees argue, the UK will be well positioned to:

  • provide pilots for new technologies;
  • lead on legal and regulatory innovations;
  • and establish expertise in new technical services.

Successfully capitalising on new technologies will require specific skills to meet these changing demands.

  1. More collaboration could promote earlier adoption of breakthrough technologies

The maximum benefits will be derived by countries who are the early adopters of new technologies. As these interviews show, the different businesses have a lot in common. We are on the cusp of potentially transformative developments in marine and maritime, suggesting that now is the right time for industry to come together to capitalise on their synergies and develop shared solutions to the challenges and opportunities that they have identified in this report.

Download Future of the Sea: Industry perspectives on emerging technology to read our summaries of industry leaders’ views on the future of the sea.

Visit the Foresight Future of the sea website to find out more about the project.

Image Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Vattenfall

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  1. Comment by Richard Scrase posted on

    Please insert a link to 'Download our Future of the Sea'

    • Replies to Richard Scrase>

      Comment by Rosie Powell-Tuck posted on

      Hi Richard, thanks for flagging this. The link should now be available if you refresh your page. Best wishes, Rosie