Subsea UK transitions to Global Underwater Hub, expands focus to include aquaculture

Responsible Seafood Advocate

Government provides £13 million investment to help the new UK non-profit ‘do more’

Subsea UK is transitioning to the Global Underwater Hub and expanding focus onto the “whole of the underwater industry.” Photo courtesy of the Global Underwater Hub. Credit: Mike Stebnicki/

Subsea UK, a world leader in underwater technology and expertise, is transitioning to the Global Underwater Hub (GUH) – a new strategically focused, intelligence-led organization that represents the “whole of the underwater industry.”

Since it was founded in 2004, the not-for-profit industry body has championed the UK’s underwater supply chain and helped create opportunities at home and abroad for its members. While primarily focusing on offshore oil and gas and wind industries in the past, now the new organization is expanding into emerging sectors, including aquaculture.

“Aquaculture contributes £1.8 billion (U.S. $2.4 billion) to the UK economy, £885 million to the wider Scottish economy every year, supporting around 12,000 Scottish jobs,” said Neil Gordon, chief executive of the GUH. “The sector has set a target of doubling the current production value to £3.6 billion by 2030.”

According to Gordon, the cross-sectoral collaboration generated by the GUH will help achieve that target. This is partly because of the “great synergy” between the subsea expertise employed in aquaculture and other sectors, such as energy, marine science and defense. This includes ROVs, divers, environmental assessment and modelling, imagery and sensors and moorings.

“That exposure and access to the largest cross-sector underwater community in the world will encourage and support cross-sector collaboration on an unprecedented scale,” said Gordon. “The GUH will harness the UK’s combined underwater expertise in engineering, environmental science, technology, services and skills to enable companies to successfully compete in the underwater sectors of aquaculture, offshore energy, defense, telecoms and subsea mining.”

The transition comes at a time when the underwater industry is expanding worldwide. In particular, the global underwater segment of the blue economy is projected to grow from £50 billion to £140 billion in the future. The GUH will focus on helping the UK industry scale-up, allowing it to “capture and grow a significant share of this market.”

Building on the foundation built by Subsea UK, it plans to transform the UK’s £8 billion underwater industry into one of the largest and fastest-growing industries in the country, generating an additional £45 billion in revenues by 2035, accelerating the drive to net-zero and creating high-value sustainable jobs and exports.

“Subsea UK was recognized globally as a go-to body for the underwater sector, establishing valuable connections and partnerships with organizations around the world,” said Gordon. “The GUH will take that global focus even further. It will be unique in the world with no other body nationally or internationally wholly focused on the underwater industry, covering all its markets and providing the commercially driven, strategic market intelligence and collaborations that will accelerate growth.”

As a larger, multi-sector body, the GUH will have a physical presence in the UK regions where there are strategic clusters of underwater activity – Northeast Scotland, North of England and South of England – boosting its capacity to work across the country. By promoting the country as a center of excellence, it’s anticipated that the GUH will also attract overseas investment. It plans to work with the government to facilitate inward investment and demonstrate how it will help overseas companies to connect with and access the underwater industry and its supply chain in the UK.

The UK and Scottish governments have provided £13 million investment to help the new organization “do more,” including opening the two additional hubs and bringing in greater sector-specific specialist support and marketing intelligence. The first regional hub in Aberdeen ­– a renowned global centre of excellence in underwater engineering – will be joined by two hubs in Newcastle and Bristol in early 2022. The GUH operating model will connect the people, companies and locations, offering members access to a UK-wide entity at a regional level.

“The aquaculture sector opens up a wealth of opportunities for companies in the underwater industry that want to diversify and grow their presence in this fast-moving market and the GUH is the catalyst that can make that happen,” said Gordon.

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