MarRI-UK announces funding for SPINE (Shipping and Port Interfaces In New Era) project

£1.06M awarded to a consortium led by MSE International to address clean maritime challenges in the seaports and shipping sectors

A consortium of nine organisations led by MSE International, has been awarded £1.06 as part of the Smart Maritime Land Operations Call.  

The call was launched in November 2020 as part of a Maritime Research and Innovation UK (MarRI-UK) initiative supported by the Department for Transport (DfT), aiming to fund a single project or multiple linked projects that would enable the automation of operations in the land/water interface, supporting both infrastructure and operations. 

A Smart Hydrogen Highway project to develop a national hydrogen highway network, integrating land, sea and port, led by Port of London Authority, was announced as the successful project last year. Additional funding was granted for SPINE project given its strong potential in project impact and benefits for the maritime sector, innovative aspect, strategic fit with maritime 2050, alignment with MarRI-UK Vision and the project’s overall value for money. 

The consortium of four SMEs, two large companies and three research technology organisations is looking at ship-shore integration from an energy and autonomy perspective, bringing together elements of infrastructure, with data, automation and supporting communications. By establishing an interface between ships, remote control centres, port operating systems and national energy infrastructure, the SPINE project can holistically address the entire maritime value chain, key themes of Maritime 2050, the Technology and Innovation in UK Maritime Routemap, Clean Maritime Plan and UK Ports of the Future. 

Together with Smart Hydrogen Highway project, SPINE project will play an important role in supporting the delivery of the Government’s plans for Maritime 2050. They will deliver a research and innovation project that links key elements of UK government policy and ambition whilst demonstrating implementation in a real-world environment. This would further promote and extend collaboration, co-operation and synergy in the maritime sector.

MarRI-UK, which is based at the University of Strathclyde, will continue to support collaboration and co-operation within the maritime sector which tackles technology and innovation challenges. 

Maritime Minister Robert Courts said:

“The introduction of autonomous vessels alongside the shipping sector’s ongoing energy transition will make shipping more efficient, greener, and safer. To advance capability in these areas, significant changes to port and connected infrastructure are required. 

By investigating the integration of autonomous vessels, port operations and energy infrastructure, SPINE will help make the UK a world leader in the future of maritime, and help realise the Maritime 2050 vision of driving the transition to zero emission shipping in UK waters.” 

John Howie MBE, Chair of MarRI-UK, said:

“This award is a great example of the importance of collaboration – a core tenet of MarRI-UK – exemplified here by government and industry working together to solve a common challenge, but also by the nine organisations that have worked together to develop this compelling proposal.

Clean autonomous transport will play a key role in the future of shipping, and the land/water interface will be core to its successful operation, so I will be following this programme closely and look forward to seeing it develop.”


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