The Selkie Network – Our first Selkie Networking event

The Selkie Network – Our first Selkie Networking event

As we move through 2021, it is clear that making connections under the current circumstances is an on-going challenge faced by businesses across a number of sectors. With the fast-growing marine renewable energy industry, facilitating connections across the supply chain is key to keeping the momentum of the sector rolling. As part of providing support opportunities for businesses in the sector, the Selkie project held its first networking session in collaboration with Enterprise Hub (Hwb Menter) during late January. Enterprise Hub is a business support project established to assist start-ups in any sector and they teamed up with Selkie to host this session and encourage new businesses to get involved in marine energy.

A total of eight businesses from the Selkie network had the opportunity to showcase their work in the industry as well as share experiences of diversification from other sectors. The session also welcomed members of Enterprise Hub and it was an exciting opportunity for smaller businesses to learn about the industry’s opportunities, network with leading industry companies, and ultimately be in a better position to collaborate and apply for tenders in the future.

With representatives from developers, fabrication, engineering, insurance, and consultancy companies, it was a fantastic showcase of the diversity of opportunities in the marine energy sector across Wales and Ireland. The variety of companies present raised interesting discussion points that impact companies on an industry-wide scale. Opportunities of diversification were discussed, with representatives of Matom Ltd, an experienced nuclear decommissioning company, highlighting the transferability of skills from the nuclear sector to marine renewable energy. With the industry seeing fast-paced growth akin to the previous boom in offshore oil and gas, the need for diversification from industries with transferable skills is apparent, and many companies, such as Matom Ltd, have great success stories in diversification.

With the growth of the sector as a key topic of the discussion, not only was supply chain engagement highlighted as an important step towards streamlining the industry, but also the need to raise awareness amongst the public. In particular, Sasha Wynn Ltd identified industry engagement with young people and education institutions as vital to industry progression, highlighting that skills development will be needed to fill increasing industry demand. The discussion emphasised that it will be particularly beneficial to encourage upskilling within coastal communities that are local to developments, supporting both industry growth and boosting local economies.

Despite the wealth of opportunities in a growing sector, it was noted that applying for contracts is still a competitive process. Providing insightful knowledge from a developers’ perspective, floating wind and wave developer, Marine Power Systems highlighted the key areas that are considered when choosing a supply chain company for tender. Broadly, three key factors were discussed: level of expertise; company ethics, including considerations of environmental, social, and economic impacts; and lastly, external certifications and credentials. Green certification was emphasized, as in an industry focused on sustainable and clean energy, it is vital that companies applying for tenders consider their own best practices for environmental sustainability.

Overall, the session provided a positive outlook on the opportunities available in the marine renewable energy industry and allowed for the formulation of new industry connections for businesses across the Irish Sea. As many COVID-19 restrictions remain in place moving further into 2021, the Selkie project aims to run further virtual sessions in the coming months. If you would like to have the opportunity to showcase your business’ work and build your contacts within the industry, please get in touch with sophie@mentermon.com and find out about becoming a member of the Selkie network for free.