SubseaUK transitions into Global Underwater Hub

Subsea UK has transitioned into the Global Underwater Hub.  This article provides an update on the position prior to the launch which is planned for the end of November.

For almost two decades Subsea UK has successfully championed the UK’s underwater industry across the country and around the world. Recognised as a world-leader in underwater technology and expertise, the UK industry currently boasts around a third of global market share.

However, with an unprecedented scale of opportunity for growth, Subsea UK is transitioning into the Global Underwater Hub (GUH), a new strategically focused, intelligence-led organisation that will help the industry capitalise on that opportunity.

The transition comes at a time when the underwater industry is expanding on a global level, with fast-paced, highly competitive markets offering multi-billion opportunities in emerging sectors such as aquaculture, defence and oceanology, along with floating offshore wind, wave and tidal energy, CCUS and hydrogen.

“Aquaculture contributes £1.8 billion to the UK economy, £885million to the wider Scottish economy every year, supporting around 12,000 Scottish jobs,” said Neil Gordon, chief executive of the Global Underwater Hub. “The sector has set a target of doubling the current production value to £3.6 billion by 2030.

“The cross-sectoral collaboration generated by the GUH will help achieve that target. There is great synergy already between the subsea expertise employed in aquaculture and that employed in other sectors such as energy, marine science and defence. This includes ROVs, divers, environmental assessment and modelling, imagery and sensors and moorings.

“The aquaculture sector opens up a wealth of opportunities for companies in the underwater industry that want to diversify and grow their presence in this fast-moving market and the GUH is the catalyst that can make that happen.”

With the global underwater segment of the blue economy set to grow from £50bn to £140bn over the coming years, the GUH will focus its attention on helping the UK industry scale up so that it can capture and grow a significant share of this market.

Building on Subsea UK’s heritage and retaining the experience, knowledge, network and membership, the GUH will transform the UK’s £8bn underwater industry into one of the largest and fastest-growing industries in the country, generating an additional £45bn in revenues by 2035, accelerating the drive to net-zero and creating high value sustainable jobs and exports.

As a larger, multi-sector body representing the whole of the underwater industry, the GUH will have a physical presence in the UK regions where there are strategic clusters of underwater activity, North-east Scotland, North of England, and South of England, giving it greater capacity to work right across the country.

The first regional hub, in Aberdeen, which is recognised as a global centre of excellence in underwater engineering, will be joined by two further hubs in Newcastle and in Bristol in early 2022. The GUH operating model will connect the people, companies and locations, offering members access to a UK-wide entity at a regional level.

Continuing as an industry governed and led organisation the GUH, with an injection of UK and Scottish Government funding, will be equipped to represent, promote and support all sectors of the underwater industry.

The funding has provided the resources which are helping the new organisation do more, including opening the two additional hubs and bringing in greater sector specific specialist support and marketing intelligence.

Together, those elements will combine to deliver significant export growth, promote cross-sector collaboration and innovation to fast-track solutions for multiple underwater challenges, develop skills and capabilities to drive competitive advantage and support the accelerated growth of new and existing UK underwater businesses.

“That exposure and access to the largest cross-sector underwater community in the world will encourage and support cross-sector collaboration on an unprecedented scale,” said Mr Gordon.  “The GUH will harness the UK’s combined underwater expertise in engineering, environmental science, technology, services, and skills, to enable companies to successfully compete in the underwater sectors of aquaculture, offshore energy, defence, telecoms and subsea mining.

“Subsea UK was recognised globally as a go-to body for the underwater sector, establishing valuable connections and partnerships with organisations around the world. The GUH will take that global focus even further. It will be unique in the world with no other body nationally or internationally wholly focused on the underwater industry, covering all its markets and providing the commercially-driven, strategic market intelligence and collaborations that will accelerate growth.

“It will build on the existing relationships created by Subsea UK, establishing new ones, giving it even greater reach and presence amongst other players in the global market, helping UK companies grow internationally and increase their global footprint and marketshare.”

The GUH will bring other benefits too. Firmly establishing the UK industry as a world-leader and promoting the country as a centre of excellence, will attract overseas investment. By understanding and discussing with overseas companies what they need in order to invest in the UK, the GUH will work with government to facilitate inward investment and demonstrate how it will help overseas companies to connect with and access the underwater industry and its supply chain in the UK.

But with the new resource, there is also greater responsibility. As the underwater industry benefits from reaping the rich rewards of achieving success in the blue economy, it will be working to preserve it for the future, using this cross-fertilisation of expertise and technology to help meet the long-term shift towards a low carbon society and sustainable use of the ocean’s resources and its environment.