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19 February 2014, 13:19
Minister for Portsmouth, Michael Fallon, has 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.
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.
A Department for Business, Innovation & Skills statement said:
"While in the City, the Minister will also meet 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.
"Fallon will also visit 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.
"Tourism is an important element of the local economy and Michael Fallon will be given a preview of HMS - Hear My Story - a major £4.5m 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 will also visit 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 is meeting with students and touring 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."