A new Global Underwater Hub (GUH) has appointed an “industry heavy-hitter” as its first chairman.
Andrew Hodgson will lead the board of the new organisation as it works across all sectors of the subsea industry to provide underwater companies with a range of services.
By delivering market information, connections, access and specialist expertise, its hoped firms will be able to capitalise on the opportunities presented by the energy transition and the “blue economy”, expected to be worth £140 billion annually by 2035.
A member of Subsea UK’s board from 2010 to 2017, Mr Hodgson also headed up Subsea North East, England.
He is a “recognised strategic business leader”, with a reputation for delivering in periods of significant organisational change.
Mr Hodgson will bring a wealth of corporate, private and public sector experience to the GUH, which will be crucial as it strives to get up and running.
With a career spanning international technology, engineering and manufacturing, he has “significant board experience”, including nine years as chairman and vice-chairman of the North East of England Local Enterprise Partnership.
He also boasts numerous business accolades, including the Queen’s Award for Industry three times.
In 2015 Mr Hodgson was awarded an OBE for Services to Manufacturing and the North East of England Economy.
Other past experience includes as nine-year stint as chief executive of SMD, one of the world’s leading suppliers of ROVs for the subsea sector.
During that time he switched the company from an almost 80% oil and gas focus to more than 80% revenues in other sectors, whilst also delivering significant growth.
Mr Hodgson said: “The underwater industry in the UK is strategically important, as evidenced by government support for the Global Underwater Hub. With a rapidly growing global market and a world-leading position, the industry has the potential to grow exponentially, helping achieve net-zero and creating new, high-value jobs and exports.
“We want to see the UK continuing to lead the way around the world and capturing a larger share of the opportunities in the blue economy by addressing the challenges for our future generations, whether that be reversing climate change, husbanding our mineral resources or monitoring and safeguarding our ocean environments.
Mr Hodgson takes up the role at the GUH as Subsea UK transitions into a new “strategically-focused organisation”, aiming to transform the UK’s £8bn underwater industry.
On its own, the subsea industry could generate £45bn in revenues by 2035, accelerating the drive to net-zero and creating high value sustainable jobs and exports.
Understood to be primarily based in Westhill, on the outskirts of Aberdeen, the GUH has received £13 million in backing from UK and Scottish Government.
The facility – which will have satellite sites in North East England – is designed to cement the Granite City as the “go-to destination” for the subsea industry.
By doing so, it is hoped the GUH can help the region to diversify, lessening its reliance on oil and gas.
Subsea UK is currently transitioning into the GUH, with the launch and official opening planned for later this year.
Mr Hodgson added: “The biggest challenge we face, but also the greatest opportunity, will come from cross-sector collaboration. The GUH will be uniquely positioned to connect the different institutions and companies with the market opportunity to deliver the underwater solutions of the future.
“It will be incumbent upon us to make sure that sectors such as defence, offshore renewables, and oil and gas all work together, collectively furthering their knowledge and improving their global offering.
“We have major strengths in each of those spaces with world leading technology and expertise. The world is demanding change and, in helping bring that about, we can gain economic advantage not just for the industry but for the country as a whole. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be part of that and I am thrilled to be steering this new organisation in meeting its ambitious objectives and delivering transformational change.”