Press release

Fallon announces boost for Solent’s maritime and marine engineering industry

Minister for Portsmouth, Michael Fallon, announced a project to attract more investment in the maritime and marine engineering industry.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

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Minister for Portsmouth, Michael Fallon, today (19 February 2014) announced a new research project to help attract more investment in the maritime and marine engineering industry in the Solent area.

Ministers, industry and local leaders have commissioned the University of Southampton to research the strengths and opportunities including investment ready sites, research and development assets, skills and technologies that have a competitive edge.

The report will be ready in the spring and will be used to promote the industry to investors, particularly those from overseas.

Speaking during a visit to Portsmouth today Michael Fallon said:

The Portsmouth and Solent area has enormous expertise in marine and maritime engineering. Despite the recent BAE shipbuilding announcements thousands of people are still employed locally by companies like BAE, Autonomous Surface Vehicles and Griffon Hoverwork. We must use this strength to capitalise on new opportunities for growth.

This root and branch review will identify opportunities that could generate substantial investment in the local economy and provide a strong foundation for development in the years ahead. We are committed to building confidence in the area as a world class centre of excellence in which businesses will invest and create jobs.

The Department for Business, UK Trade and Investment, the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership and the British Marine Federation will oversee the work. The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is a key partner due to the region’s strengths in marine and maritime engineering.

Much of the focus will be on the region, but the study will be UK-wide and there will be an opportunity for other interested LEPs to be involved.

Whilst in the City, the Minister also met with representatives of BAE Systems at the naval base to discuss the company’s attempts to mitigate the impact of the job losses announced in November 2013.

Michael Fallon also visited SC Vital Fitness, a local fitness centre which has benefitted from government funding. The business was set up by former Royal Naval Fitness Instructor Sean Cole in September 2013. The company received £30,000 via the £2 million Bridging the Gap grant fund.

Launched in June 2012 by the Solent LEP in partnership with Portsmouth City Council, The News and the University of Portsmouth, Bridging the Gap has awarded over £746,000 and committed a further £420,000 to local businesses. Bridging the Gap is funded by the government’s Regional Growth Fund. In light of the success of the schemes and following the job losses at BAE, the government increased the level of funding for Bridging the Gap by £2 million. This will be for SMEs, individuals or ex-employees affected by economic shocks in the region who want to either recalibrate their business or access start-up funds.

Tourism is an important element of the local economy and Michael Fallon was given a preview of HMS - Hear My Story - a major £4.5 million exhibition situated in the brand new Babcock Galleries at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard. Opening on 3 April 2014, it will tell the undiscovered stories from the ordinary men, women and ships which have made the Navy‘s amazing history over the last 100 years the century of greatest change.

Michael Fallon also visited the University of Portsmouth’s Creative and Cultural Industries faculty - another sector that the city has strengths in and that presents opportunities for new jobs and growth. The minister met with students and toured a motion capture studio to see how the latest technologies are being applied in research.

The government is determined to help local leaders release the opportunities for growth and jobs that currently exist in Portsmouth. Business Minister Michael Fallon has been given specific responsibility for co-ordinating the government’s ongoing efforts to support the future of the maritime industry in the area and the livelihoods of the people who work there.

A number of other senior ministers have visited the city recently to support these efforts. The Business Secretary Vince Cable visited last week and saw at first hand how local firms are using government support to create jobs and capitalise on international export opportunities. The Business Secretary opened Magma Global’s new in-country manufacturing facility, part of a £12.75 million quayside scheme at Trafalgar Wharf.

Notes to editors

1.The marine and maritime industries (which includes manufacturing, engineering, shipping, ports and maritime business services) contribute approximately £19 billion to the economy and employ 367,000 people. The UK has a world class reputation for building warships and submarines, and design and manufacture of leisure craft, marine equipment and marine science.

The Marine Industries Growth Strategy launched in 2011 said that:

Greater cooperation across the marine and maritime sectors could see their value to the UK economy rise to £25 billion a year by 2020.

The new study will analyse the growth opportunities and marine capabilities within each LEP region. The UK will then be in a better position to capitalise on business opportunities, for example in maritime autonomous systems, composites, marine science, leisure and workboats and marine renewable energy. This will help lead to strengthening of supply chains, a more co-ordinated approach by government and industry on business opportunities and an overall increase in jobs and inward investment.

2.Recent government support for Portsmouth area includes:

  • a City Deal agreed with the government for Portsmouth and Southampton last year is set to bring over 4,700 permanent new jobs in Portsmouth, particularly in the marine, maritime and advanced manufacturing sectors
  • a central part of that deal is that the Ministry of Defence will transfer its sites on Tipner/Horsea Island to Portsmouth City Council for a nominal fee - this will unlock £831 million of private and public sector investment
  • a new junction on the M275 will open up land in the north of the city (Tipner/Horsea Island) for homes and new business premises to be built - the City Deal will enable many more sites to be made available in this area

3.About the RGF

The Regional Growth Fund is a £3.2 billion fund designed to help companies in England to grow. So far £2.6 billion of funding has been allocated to support projects and programmes committed to deliver sustainable jobs and economic growth. Round 5 selected bidders will be announced in the spring 2014. For more information, please go to www.bis.gov.uk/rgf.

The Solent has been awarded the following funding from the Regional Growth Fund:

  • Solent Futures project is a £13 million investment. £10 million will be used to support the defence sector in the Solent and £3 million will be used to support advanced manufacturing skills in the workforce by bringing together leading businesses, colleges and Universities at a new world-class training centre on the Solent Enterprise Zone
  • the Enterprise Zone Expansion Fund is a £2.9 million investment, focused on advanced manufacturing businesses based on, or moving to, the Solent Enterprise Zone at Daedalus
  • the Isle of Wight Expansion Fund is a £2.5 million investment, focused on advanced manufacturing businesses based on, or moving to, the Isle of Wight
  • Bridging the Gap is a £6 million investment. £2 million was originally awarded to support small and growing local businesses in the Portsmouth area. A further £2 million was subsequently awarded, this time focused on helping businesses and entrepreneurs in Southampton and the Isle of Wight - including Ford employees and Ford supply chain companies. In light of the success of these schemes, the level of RGF funding for Bridging the Gap was increased by a further £2 million - this is for affected SMEs and ex-employees of BAE in Portsmouth who want to access start-up funds
  • as part of the Southampton and Portsmouth City Deal £10 million was awarded. £7 million of which will be used to help unlock the Watermark West Quay site in Southampton, which will lead to £90 million of private sector investment in the city. Southampton and Portsmouth also secured an additional £3 million to support small firms through the provision of innovation and incubation space
  • Solent Growth Hub is a £2.5 million One Stop Shop project that will signpost companies and entrepreneurs in the Solent region towards grant funding, training and other support

4.The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set 4 ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’, published at Budget 2011:

  • to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.

Published 19 February 2014