The National Oceanography Centre’s Marine Autonomous and Robotic Systems (MARS) Innovation Centre reached its completion last week. The £3 million center, which was part funded through the Government’s ‘Eight Great Technologies’ initiative, will see marine businesses working alongside the NOC’s own autonomy and robotics team, sharing knowledge and the NOC’s extensive marine testing facilities.

Kevin Forshaw, Associate Director, Innovation and Enterprise at the NOC commented, “We believe that truly great innovation happens when great minds meet and ideas can be brought to life. The MARS Innovation Centre is the place for that to happen. We recently saw two fantastic new autonomous vehicles built out of our collaboration with businesses, and we’re at the start of several exciting new projects that look set to repeat this success.”

With the paint only just dry, the centre already has numerous businesses lined up to occupy it, with Camberley-based Planet Ocean Ltd, the first to agree to take space in the centre. Managing Director, Terry Sloane, commented. “Following a successful joint funding bid with the NOC to Innovate UK, we are about to start a project to launch and recover multiple underwater vehicles from an unmanned surface vehicle. Having developers based at the MARS Innovation Centre working alongside the NOC’s team and with direct access to testing facilities makes perfect sense.”

The centre is expected to be a catalyst for job creation. Planet Ocean Ltd has current vacancies for electronics and software designers and the NOC is looking for a centre manager.

Kevin Forshaw added, “This really is just the beginning. We have already seen the effect working with the NOC can have on small marine technology businesses, so we’re confident we have an offering that works. The centre provides the Solent region a true hub for marine technology development and we believe that it will attract business from all over the world, bringing jobs and a new growth industry to the region.”

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