Breakthrough announcement set for £23m Maritime Knowledge Hub

The proposed Maritime Knowledge Hub

Liverpool City Region business leaders will confirm this week that the £23m Maritime Knowledge Hub Project in Birkenhead will finally become a reality.

First announced at London Shipping Week six years ago, the MKH project will provide a national base for marine engineering research and development as well as skills training and business accelerator space. It will create 4,000 jobs in its first five years.

The 60,000 sq ft facility would be built around the Grade II-listed 19th century hydraulic tower building, a copy of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, close to the Birkenhead waterfront in Peel Land & Property’s Wirral Waters development.

Partners in the project, including industry body Mersey Maritime and Wirral Waters Peel L&P, will make an announcement later this week about the next phase of the project at the second annual Maritime Exchange conference being held on Thursday, October 15.

Organised by Mersey Maritime as part of the national Maritime UK Week focus, the Maritime Exchange was developed in 2019 in response to the Government’s Maritime 2050 report that sets out the long-term strategy for the UK maritime sector, which is annually worth £4bn in Merseyside alone.

This week’s announcement will confirm that the MKH project is now live with a start date of Summer 2021.

Mersey Maritime chief executive, Chris Shirling-Rooke, said: “This is a real breakthrough and it could not come at a better time for the Liverpool city region economy which has taken such a hammering from the COVID-19 crisis.

“Over the past six years our industry has made it their mission to ensure the Maritime Knowledge Hub becomes a reality. It is a project that answers so many of the challenges so many coastal communities are facing, job creation, skills and levelling up.

“That is not to mention the opportunities the UK maritime industry has with the direction set in Maritime 2050 and more recently the Prime Minister’s announcement on the green agenda.

“Having a world-leading facility developing advanced manufacturing techniques, aimed at everything from cleaning up air quality at ports and cruise terminals, to decarbonising the entire supply chain in the UK, can’t be a bad thing. And it’s going to be here in the North West, the go-to destination for maritime and logistics.”

He added: “Similar to the rest of the UK, the North West has taken a real hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, but like so many of our country’s key workers, the maritime and logistics industry has played its part in getting us through this ongoing challenging time.

“Ninety five per cent of UK food, fuel and supplies come to this island by sea. Our members have literally been helping to keep the lights on and the shelves stocked during the past few months, now they are ready to provide the engine of the city region’s recovery.

“The Maritime Knowledge Hub will be right at the heart of that. It will be a significant focus for the work that will propel the maritime industry forward in the years ahead – from ensuring the industry is focused on ‘green maritime’ to ensuring we have the best possible skilled workforce for the sector and support for new business opportunities and entrepreneurial spirit.”

The Maritime Exchange, this year being held virtually, will bring together maritime sector leaders and senior politicians, including new Maritime Minister, Robert Courts, former Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani, and a range of industry experts, including Dr Clive Hickman, chief executive of the Manufacturing Technology Centre, Ben Murray, director of Maritime UK, Richard Mawdsley, director of development at Wirral Waters, Peel Land & Property, and Mark Dickinson Secretary General Nautilus International.

It will focus on some of the core themes, opportunities and challenges the industry has faced over the past six months with regards to the global coronavirus pandemic, with one of the panels focusing on mental health and wellbeing, and the second focusing on the current and future opportunities around technology and innovation (decarbonisation) within the sector.

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