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OCEAN WEEK: Reflecting on our Spark Workshop with the Solent MEZ

By on

Yesterday on Tuesday 8th June 2021, was World Ocean Day! And this week we will be celebrating all things Ocean, it’s a time designed to ensure we recognise the human impact on oceans and champion a sustainable Blue Economy, sharing the responsibility of protecting oceans and of bolstering scientific research and technologies. 

This year has seen the kick-off of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. From 2021 to 2030, efforts are being made to use our current knowledge of the oceans better to help politicians and decision-makers choose the best options to save oceans and measure the possible consequences of policies. It is all part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by all UN members to end poverty and other deprivations, reduce inequality, spur economic growth, tackle climate change and preserve our oceans and resources.

In an ode to Ocean Week recently we have been working with the Solent Maritime Enterprise Zone, to reflect on the current state of play within the Solent region – and to look to the future. Within this region we are host to an array of businesses working on the big ideas, who are championing green sustainable growth in the oceans, and who are on the forefront of innovation and technology in the marine, maritime and space sectors. 

In December 2021, a Spark session was carried out by the Satellite Applications Catapult in partnership with the Solent Maritime Enterprise Zone (Solent MEZ) and us at the South Coast Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications – supported by the UK Space Agency. This workshop explored opportunities for satellite technologies to address connectivity and autonomy challenges in areas highlighted by the maritime community. These were divided into 4 groups; port operations, defence and security, transport and leisure, and autonomous vessels. 

This workshop provided businesses the opportunity to discuss, brainstorm and challenge ideas and problems in the sector and locale with the aim of creating an engaged and innovative community, ready to work with the Solent MEZ to generate activity within the region with focus and determination. 

There were a huge number of ideas and opportunities discussed throughout the day – you can read the full report here: Solent MEZ and SAC Spark Event Report. This week, during Ocean Week – we are taking this opportunity to delve a little deeper into some of the proposals of the day and talking with businesses who are already making things happen in the region to hear their thoughts about what is happening now, and what is possible in the coming months and years. 

Later today (Wednesday 9th June)  we will be focussing on the idea of a 5G Connected Solent. As discussed during the Spark session, the infrastructure would create a 5G-enabled maritime environment for the Solent which would also enable the trialling and testing of 5G-enabled applications. With the University of Southampton, Solent University’s Warsash Maritime Training Centre and Marine Simulation Centre, the National Oceanography Centre, the University of Portsmouth and others, as well as the many maritime organisations, there is a real opportunity to promote innovation in 5G for the marine industry.

And on Thursday 10th June, you will hear more about Autonomous Vessels and the potential for a trial zone within the Solent region for the testing of autonomous systems which would increase confidence in autonomous vessel deployment, whilst creating a Solent region ready to inform future regulatory frameworks with expert knowledge and experience in testing and trialling available technologies. 

If you have any questions regarding the Spark session, or the ideas discussed – please contact Jordan Thomas of the Solent MEZ here: jordan.thomas256@mod.gov.uk


Chloe McClellan
Media and Communications Assistant
Chloe McClellan is an experienced communicator and social media specialist.