Former LEP chair takes charge of new underwater sector body

A former North East business leader has been appointed to take charge of a new body representing one of the UK’s main growth sectors.

Andrew Hodgson, who was chair of the North East LEP until last year, has become the first chair of the Global Underwater Hub, a £13m body backed by the UK and Scottish Governments.

The hub has evolved from Subsea UK, of which Mr Hodgson was a board member for seven years, as well as leading its North East region.

Read more: subsea partnership agreed

It aims to transform the UK £8bn underwater industry to a £45bn sector that creates hundreds of high-value jobs and supports the UK’s drive to net zero.

Mr Hodgson, who was CEO of Wallsend subsea company SMD until 2017, will lead the board of the new organisation as it aims to take advantage of both its increased Government funding and the opportunities presented by the global energy transition.

The organisation will have one of its three bases on Tyneside, with the others being in Aberdeen and the south east of England.

Mr Hodgson: “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.

“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.”

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