Subsea and tech bodies join forces to 'unlock untapped potential' and create jobs

A new partnership between the subsea and electronics industries has been struck in a bid to “unlock untapped potential” and create jobs.

Subsea UK and TechWorks said they have signed a memorandum of understanding to “align their strategies” and connect their supply chains.

The underwater engineering industry, represented by Subsea UK, uses technology and services to unlock energy resources in oil and gas and offshore wind production. It has been described as “Nasa on the seabed”.

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The industry, which has annual revenues of almost £8 billion and supports some 45,000 jobs, is extending into emerging sectors such as marine renewables and aquaculture.

As the subsea sector faces its twilight years, it has been looking to diversify.

TechWorks is at the core of the UK deep tech sector, operating in five key areas – automotive electronics, the “internet of things, electronics manufacturing industry, power electronics and electronic systems.

The tie-up is said to be the result of both organisations recognising that they were facing similar challenges, while working across a range of sectors providing often “hidden”, yet critical, technological solutions.

Under the agreement, Subsea UK and TechWorks will co-ordinate a range of initiatives to explore and encourage potential areas for collaboration among their supply chains.

Neil Gordon, chief executive of Subsea UK, said: “The electronics industry, like the subsea industry, is often hidden from view. For example, the electronic systems in a car or the subsea infrastructure on the seabed, are largely unseen but critical to the functioning of a vehicle or the production of energy offshore.

“It quickly became apparent that we could work collaboratively to help the supply chain grow, enhancing UK capabilities in both industries and, through a joined-up supply chain strategy have more impact and more meaningful engagement with government.

“The technologies being developed by the electronics industry in, for example, electric vehicles drive systems, battery storage and navigation are very relevant in the advancement of underwater robotics and underwater artificial intelligence.

“In essence, working together, we can learn from and collaborate with the electronics industry to develop new advanced technologies for underwater operations,” he added.

Alan Banks, chief executive of TechWorks, said: “The deep tech industries in the UK are going through unprecedented change and the best way to overcome the challenges and capitalise on the opportunities we face is by joining forces with likeminded organisations.

“Subsea UK is a wonderful example of where the likeminded thinking and collaborative spirit will make us stronger as we work together to forge stronger links between our sectors. There are many examples of where the technologies being developed and the scientific, engineering and design thinking challenges being overcome in the UK are applicable in both of our sectors.”

In January, a snapshot of the UK’s subsea supply chain revealed an improved outlook for the industry with fewer-than-anticipated redundancies, improved optimism and the prospect of new geographical markets.

According to the Subsea UK poll, 80 per cent of respondents did not anticipate making redundancies in the near future, up from 73 per cent in July. Only 12 per cent planned to make people redundant and 8 per cent were undecided.

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