At the Edge of ocean innovation

October 11, 2022
By For Blue
Edge speakers Louise Tomlin (CivMec), Nick Bentley (Oceania Energy) and Jeffrey Poon (Austal). Image: Lewis Williamson.

Greater collaboration, inclusive workplaces and secure data sharing were some of the themes shared by leaders participating in a recent event focused on engineering solutions in the marine industries.

Representatives from subsea, maritime, aquaculture, fisheries, coastal, and marine protection gathered for ‘Edge – Engineering Ocean Solutions’ in Cockburn on 6 October 2022.

For Blue Managing Director Andrew Outhwaite said the inaugural event brought together technical experts from diverse sectors to discuss shared challenges and showcase successful solutions.

“WA companies have unique capability and leading technology in marine engineering. We have already have an estimated 60,000 people employed in the broader blue economy and it’s expected to double its $25 billion contribution to gross state product in this decade,” he said.

“The Edge event is about sharing insights and engineering innovations, encourage collaborations and connect people to the available support services, hubs and funding.”

Data driven collaboration

One of the themes was the role of data in driving innovations.

Tom Goerke, Managing Director of Trestle Digital, said there was a large amount of data being captured and made available for sharing, but analysing and cleansing it was often complicated.

“Government has to be part of this and so when they’re committing to major precincts and projects, such as they are with Westport, it’s absolutely critical they’re thinking about the data infrastructure that sits behind that and how to do they capture, store, share, secure and bring in the data researchers, the TAFEs the universities,” he said.

Attracting and retaining talent

There was also acknowledgement at the event that the ongoing success of marine businesses relied on its people, but that WA, like much of Australia, was experiencing a severe kills shortage.

Louise Tomlin, Sustainability and Environment Advisor at CivMec, said creating diverse and inclusive workplaces was a powerful way to attract employees.

“It does make a big difference to your business – and how you measure that and put it forward to show other people your business is a really inclusive and nice place to work,” she said.

Decarbonising the blue economy

Marine businesses are grappling with how to lower, or eliminate, their carbon footprint – and often the pressure came from their own customers.

Jeffrey Poon, R & D Manager at Austal, said ongoing collaboration with customers, suppliers and regulators was needed.

“Because the solutions that will help us reach our climate ambitions are not yet available and nobody has really done the work before. So we really need to be working with one another to understand the risks and rewards.”

Nick Bentley, Director at Oceania Energy, spoke about a mix of technologies on the path towards decarbonisation.

“From a shipping perspective, we need to be looking at methanol, ammonia, LNG, batteries hydrogen. Every one has its place and we need to look at all of the solutions concurrently. It’s not a Betamax or a VHS moment,” he said.

‘Edge – Engineering Ocean Solutions’ was supported by For Blue, the City of Cockburn, and the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation as part of the Blue Gravity initiative.

Blue Gravity supports marine innovators, from startups or large companies, to attract talent and find investment to grow their innovation.

The next event for WA’s blue economy innovators and investors is the Blue Growth Investment Forum on Thursday, 10th November 2022, 8:00am - 12:00pm at Coogee Beach, WA.

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