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UK Government ‘Shipbuilding Tsar’ confirmed as keynote speaker for Society of Maritime Industries conference

Ben Wallace, the UK Government Defence Secretary and ‘Shipbuilding Tsar’, is confirmed today as the keynote speaker at the Society of Maritime Industries (SMI) annual conference, due to be held virtually on March 16 and 17.

Mr Wallace will reveal the Government’s latest thinking on the Shipbuilding Strategy ahead of the publication of a refreshed strategy later this year. Mr Wallace will discuss key themes including how the strategy is focused on benefits to ‘union of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland’ and how it is evolving to include all sectors of the UK ship and boat building enterprise and not solely naval ships. He will further address the need to provide consistent work flows and avoid ‘boom and bust’ cycles.

The conference will hear from ministers, officials and leading industry figures, and will detail how Government, business and academia have joined forces in the form of the Maritime Enterprise Working Group (MEWG) to help drive forward the recommendations of the 2016 Parker review. The review by Sir John Parker, the veteran industrialist, led to the Government’s national shipbuilding strategy, an industrial policy launched in 2017 aimed at recalibrating skills, capacity and competitiveness at British shipyards.

SMI CEO Tom Chant said the event will be titled ‘Building the future of the UK’s shipbuilding enterprise’.

Ben Wallace

“This is a hugely significant moment for British shipbuilding and the supply chain,” he said. “The conference is a must attend event for any business or professional keen to seize opportunities in the reinvigorated British shipbuilding and marine engineering sector. We will hear about intentions to release the pipeline of work from all key UK Government shipbuilding programmes, which offer significant opportunities to UK industry over the next 15 years. This includes commercial vessels such as ferries and research ships as well as workboats and amphibious craft.”

Mr Chant said the event will feature presentations from the Ministry of Defence, the Department for Transport, the Department for International Trade, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy as well as the Royal Navy. He said they will be joined by leading industry figures from BAE Systems, BMT as well as double Olympic sailing champion Iain Percy, CEO of Artemis Technologies.

Robert Courts MP, the Minister for Maritime will examine the impact of digitisation, decarbonisation and autonomy while Amanda Solloway the Minister for Science, Research and Innovation will look at the global offshore wind market and industrial policy. Graham Stuart MP, the Minister for Exports, meanwhile will speak about reinforcing British export success and help for SMEs. Other highlights include a joint presentation by QinetiQ and Princess Yachts on the potential for cross sector collaboration to drive decarbonisation who follow John Howie from Babcock International Group speaking in his capacity as Chairman Maritime Research and Innovation (MarRI-UK).

Tom Chant

Mr Chant said the event will reinforce just how ‘fundamental’ maritime is to the UK economy offering substantial export and growth opportunities for British firms post Brexit.

The conference will host a permanent portal for businesses to access digital content generated for the event, as well as the recent work of the Maritime Enterprise Working Group. It will further provide a forum for discussion and engagement on the National Shipbuilding Strategy. He said the platform will enable companies to highlight their role and offer in the shipbuilding industry as well as input into the National Shipbuilding Strategy.
Source: Society of Maritime Industries (SMI)

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