Why Is The Solent The Heart Of The World’s Maritime Industry? With Stuart Baker

13 Apr 2022
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Why Is The Solent The Heart Of The World’s Maritime Industry? With Stuart Baker

Why Is The Solent The Heart Of The World’s Maritime Industry? With Stuart Baker

On the final episode of Season 1, Nella is joined by Stuart Baker, Business Development Director and MD of Maritime UK Solent to discuss the maritime industry in the South Coast.

They chatted about the key initiatives of Maritime UK Solent and some examples of innovation that are being brought forward.

They touched on the Solent being a global hydrogen hub as well as why the Solent will be the beating heart of the world marine and maritime centre.

Key Insights From This Episode: 

  • The Solent has 340 miles of coastal land, three islands, three peninsulas, two major international gateway ports, world-leading research and training institutions and a rich maritime heritage. – Nella
  • The Solent offers maritime defence, maritime green, maritime training, maritime tourism and heritage, advanced manufacturing, ports, cruise sector and ​​regulation and business services. – Stuart 
  • Businesses are wanting to make the right decisions. They’re wanting to make greener, more sustainable decisions, but ultimately they’ve got to make a profit. – Stuart
  • Solent Freeport could be a hydrogen hub for the UK, if not globally. – Nella
  • Southampton water has been identified by the government as an industrial cluster. – Stuart

About Our Guests: 

Stuart Baker, Business Development Director and MD of Maritime UK Solent

Stuart joined the Solent LEP in 2013 and carried out the role of Assistant Director of Strategy and Programme Development until 2021 when he was appointed Business Development Director.  Stuart is also Managing Director of Maritime UK Solent, the private sector-led economic cluster partnership, backed by the Solent LEP, which launched as a limited company in September 2021.

As Business Development Director at the LEP, Stuart leads on all aspects of the Solent LEP’s economic Strategy, including skills, business support, sector development, innovation and environment.

Maritime UK Solent is the regional arm of Maritime UK and works to bring together the Solent region’s maritime strengths and assets to champion and promote the region as a globally significant maritime cluster. It aims to encourage investment, support maritime businesses, drive innovation, pioneer clean and green technology in the industry, and develop a talent base for the future.  Stuart sits on the regional council for Maritime UK and is a past chair.

Prior to joining the LEP, Stuart worked in Local Government, primarily in Transport Planning.  He managed Solent Transport, a partnership of the Local Highway Authorities of the Solent area and has an MSc. in Transport Planning and Management.

Maritime UK Solent convenes the area’s key maritime stakeholders to champion the Solent as the leading maritime cluster, developing international links through representation at targeted maritime events and trade missions. It will bring the sector together through regular events to improve integration, knowledge exchange, and supply change links. Through strong ties with both Solent LEP and Maritime UK, Maritime UK Solent members will help to shape the future direction of the sector.



[00:50] Can you share some of the key initiatives that the Maritime UK Solent are doing to support the industry? 

  • The Solent represents 20% of our economy, around £6 billion output. 
  • SMEs in the maritime sector and have been crying out for a body to champion what’s going on here so as an organisation is to champion the sector.     
  • Our mission is to provide that leadership for a thriving maritime sector and support maritime businesses. 
  • Our 3 priority areas: 
    • People: The talent and skills needed and eradicating recruitment challenges.
    • Innovation: Maritime Innovation Gateway
    • Environment: De-carbonisation and pathway to net zero. 

[11:50] What makes the Solent the beating heart of the world’s marine and maritime centre?

  • The Solent has a tremendous array of assets across a breadth of the maritime sector. I truly believe that no other area in the world can compete with. 
  • Maritime defence, maritime training, maritime tourism and heritage, advanced manufacturing, ports, cruise sector and ​​regulation and business services. 
  • Maritime UK Solent is bringing the sector together and enables you to tap into that network.
  • We have three tax sites, Dunsbury Park, Southampton Water Tax Site and Navigator Quarter. 

[17:40]  What examples of innovation are being brought forward?

  • BAR Technologies
  • Subsea Craft
  • ECOsubsea
  • ABP Southampton 
  • Portsmouth International Port

[21:20] What contribution can the maritime sector have on the wider sustainability agenda?

  •  A lot of this is linked to innovation.
  • When businesses are looking to  government funding, particularly in green maritime, they’ll need to collaborate.

 [24:15] The Solent could be a hydrogen hub for the UK, if not globally. What is your take on this?

  • Hydrogen has a massive part to play in the future of maritime propulsion.
  • Southampton water in particular could be the hydrogen hub.  
  • With alternative fuels for the maritime sector, you need it in your ports.

[27:15] Nella Pang’s Quickfire Questions 

1.Who are the movers and shakers of our region? 

  • Maritime UK Solent
  • Brian Johnson 
  • Carnival UK
  • Ocean Infinity 

2. What is the best thing that businesses could benefit from, by being on the South Coast?

  • We have that breadth of coverage across the maritime sector.
  • We are exceptionally connected.   

3. Do you live by a mantra or do you have a favourite saying? 

  • I don’t know why anyone would live by a mantra if I’m brutally honest because I think life changes.


Companies Mentioned:


Shout Outs:

About Our Host: 

Nella Pang

I left the corporate world in 2020 and launched Omega RE a commercial advisory firm in a pandemic, whilst on maternity. Brave some people would say. 🚀

The pandemic has taught many of us a thing or two, particularly on how we can do business. I support businesses to navigate the complexities of Commercial Real Estate, so they can achieve their business objectives through their Real Estate decisions.

Lease negotiations can be a minefield. Even small mistakes can drive up costs. That’s why I will represent your interests every step of the way, ensuring you receive full value of our experience and market knowledge.

With over 18 years’ experience in the Commercial Property Market having worked for the big corporates Jones Lang LaSalle Limited, BNP Paribas Real Estate and Vail Williams.

I want to be able to share my corporate knowledge with my clients, whilst offering a more personal dedicated commercial advisory service.

Having acted for a wide range of clients from major pension funds to private investors, small businesses and individuals. I love meeting people and I am passionate about adding value to my clients business and watching their business thrive.

About Omega RE

Omega RE is commercial property advisory firm based on the South Coast. Providing expert advice to Landlords, Occupiers in the industrial, office and retail markets.

Omega RE is always thinking ‘Outside the Box’ in our advice to clients and the way we do business. We don’t settle for mediocre, we challenge the norm and are dedicated to finding solutions that is best for our clients.

We are a people business, based on strong relationships and partnerships, and we offer a personal level of service.

As the market evolves, we will too adapt to be successful and want the same for our clients. We are committed to finding innovative ways of marketing and how to do things more efficiently.

We will never stagnate.

We are disciplined in everything we do, we take time to understand the situation and set a bespoke strategy for each client. Not one size fits all. We do not cut corners or take short cuts and our integrity is undisputed.

Providing clients’ a hands on approach to finding the perfect property; office, industrial, warehouse or retail space to meet business needs and negotiating the best commercial lease terms, is what we do best.

We come to work because we’re passionate about providing expert, innovative, independent advice to clients. We want to help businesses navigate the complexities of Commercial Real Estate.

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