The project aims to develop and support the growth of a connected port solutions ecosystem backed by data, science and IoT technologies.

Bottom-up initiatives are forming around this common goal, mainly among maritime logistics players, port authorities and large IT providers

2 Seas Ports need to become more efficient and innovative

The development of a Northbound land route starting from a new European hub in Piraeus and nearby Mediterranean ports and substantial infrastructure investments by Chinese shippers and trade investors put pressure on 2 Seas ports to become more efficient and innovative.

If data science capacity could be aligned with ports’ demands and complex multi-stakeholder challenges, it would address an important strategic need of the ports and speed up market development for the still immature data science industry.

The current objective is to connect to and develop a community of ambitious data science entrepreneurs (start-ups and SMEs), data science & maritime experts and knowledge centres.

As such, the project aims to translate innovations from both technologies into a connected and multi-modal port environment.

This, in turn, will generate more efficient communication and logistical streams through dedicated data-based solutions.

On top of this, the project aims to reap the full business potential of high-tech start-ups and SMEs, professionalize their business activities and increase their overall (international) performance.

The project has three main outputs: 

  • Mobilizing a network connecting 2 Seas regional data science high-tech start-ups and SMEs, data science and maritime experts and knowledge centres and port stakeholders, to support the Western European ports and port stakeholders who are in need of data science solutions.
  • Building a common approach to facilitate the development of data science applications for port logistics problems, supporting the Western European ports and port stakeholders who benefit from improved technology adoption and a joint technology roadmap.
  • Build a common approach to develop and improve the technical value delivering, commercialisation capacities and professionalization of smart port entrepreneurs and for the adoption of smart port solutions, to the benefit of (internationalizing) high-tech start-ups and SMEs, and port application users.

WSX Enterprise will work with Dutch, Belgian, French and other UK partners to deliver the project from 2019 until mid 2022.


News Articles

Ports prepare for digital revolution: report examining connectivity at UK's economic gateways

The BPA has today published research into mobile coverage and deployments in ports, undertaken alongside experts in digital connectivity, Telint.

Ports around the world are now increasingly taking advantage of new technology and UK spectrum regulations mean that ports are in a strong position to expand their connectivity. However, this report analyses the state of digital coverage experienced by UK ports and how this can be improved to remain internationally competitive with the ports in Europe and beyond, many of whom are already developing their own innovative 5G networks.

The report provides case studies of three European ports and provides an overall assessment of the mobile data coverage at over 30 UK ports.


British Ports Association examines the future of aerial drone activity in UK ports 6th November

Using an aerial drone to deliver light-weight parcels to ships, survey port infrastructure and ships, enhance search and rescue missions, and for additional security enforcement may be coming sooner than you realise for UK’s maritime sector. The British Ports Association has been looking at the implications for ports.

When unmanned aircraft systems, commonly known as drones, are fully commercialised it seems like there are endless possibilities and benefits for everyone involved in ports and shipping.

However, those who wish to operate aerial drones must adhere to various safety, legal, regulatory and insurance requirements. These vary depending on whether the drone is being used for commercial or recreational purposes. Furthermore, depending on where the flight takes place, drone flyers and operators may require the approval of the Civil Aviation Authority, local air traffic control and port authorities, where relevant.

As there have been significant legal and regulatory developments in the UK over the last 12 months, various resources have been developed to support the drone sector, which includes the Drone Safe website and the Drone and Model Aircraft Code. However, a detailed analysis of the risks and opportunities for UK ports, as well as their customers and stakeholders had until now, not yet been documented in one place.

The British Ports Association today publishes a briefing paper for its members and the wider ports industry to examine the various legal and regulatory considerations, as well as the different rules that apply depending on whether the drone is being used for commercial or recreational purposes.

Author of the paper, Sara Walsh, Corporate Services Manager at the BPA, comments:

Technology within the international maritime sector has been moving at pace during the last decade – whether that be autonomous ships and port operations, artificial intelligence, 3D printing or using aerial drones. Each of these will have a huge role to play in the future of the UK ports sector and to ensure the UK’s global competitive advantage.


We are pleased to publish this briefing paper which highlights the various ways aerial drones may be used within the UK’s port sector, whether it is delivering parcels to ships, surveying infrastructure, enforcement or for leisure purposes.


Of course this also presents a new challenge for port authorities in terms of managing the health and safety of all involved, reviewing risk and method assessments and developing appropriate drone policies. Ports are certainly acting now in mitigating risks as well as examining the exciting opportunities that are on offer.

Like any work in the UK, health and safety must be at the forefront of any drone activity alongside security considerations. Many UK ports have developed or are looking at designing specific drone policies. The Port of Dover have gone one step further as they are now covered by special air navigation regulations.

An added layer of complexity is added if a port is in close proximity to airport or airfield, meaning they are in a flight restriction zone, or perhaps they are located within close proximity of naval dockyards or naval bases.

This paper is part of the BPA’s Port Futures Programme which is a series of papers considering emerging and innovative trends in the port sector.



  1. The British Ports Association represents the interests of over 100 port members, covering more than 400 ports, terminal operators and port facilities.
  2. The UK ports industry plays a key role in the country’s economy as 95% of the UK’s international trade – imports and exports – is carried through British ports.
  3. UK ports also handle more than 60 million international and domestic passenger journeys each year.
  4. The UK port industry is the second largest in Europe, handling around 500 million tonnes of freight each year.
  5. UK ports directly employ around 115,000 people.

The British Ports Association have produced a video which highlights the importance of ports to the UK’s economy. It can be viewed by clicking here.

Sara Walsh | sara.walsh@britishports.org.uk | 020 7260 1780

Media / Photos
Photos are available for publication in connection with this story: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/hpmvwcu8o3dm2lp/AAChVlLzRrXl1s5As8uj2Zm2a?dl=0


The British Ports Association is today launching a major new review of UK port connectivity. This work will highlight to government and local authorities where post-Coronavirus investment in infrastructure can be concentrated in order to maximise economic growth and speed up the recovery. This will look at infrastructure outside of ports such as road and rail links but also broadening out to assess energy and digital capabilities.

The BPA is inviting ports to submit an inventory of required external improvements to connectivity infrastructure. This will be used to examine the progress made since the Department for Transport’s English Port Connectivity Study two years ago; broadening this out to all ports around the UK, as well as looking at digital connectivity, energy capacity, in addition to transport needs.

COVID-19 has demonstrated the resilience of the UK supply chain – as ports worked efficiently through the pandemic and kept the nation supplied, despite the economic downturn taking a toll on the sector, as it did with many others. However, now more than ever, it is critical to consider where government investment can be targeted to unlock growth and provide a boost to the economy. The BPA will be laying out the inventory of works before the government to show how we can build a Britain stronger than ever before.

UK ports are commercially managed, operating strategically and financially independent of Government. With very few exceptions, UK port infrastructure investments are privately financed; investments are market-led and £1.7bn is currently in the pipeline around the UK. Ports ask for very little from the Government but do rely on public investment in external infrastructure to stay competitive.

Phoebe Warneford-Thomson, Policy and Economic Analyst at the British Ports Association, who is leading the Review, said:

At a time when the government needs to stimulate significant growth to rebuild from the economic crisis, the decision to invest in infrastructure is straight forward. Infrastructure investment of 1% of GDP has a multiplier effect which can lead to an increase of 2.6% in GDP over four years.

Studies have shown that if the UK fails to bring infrastructure up to the standard of other developed economies, this could create an annual loss to the economy of £90 billion by 2026; so, in reality, the UK cannot afford not to invest in infrastructure. 
The BPA has previously welcomed the government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda, but now we ask that they consider how to bring ports into this, especially given their economic significance in coastal communities.
We are inviting ports to send us an inventory of required public infrastructure improvements and upgrades, so we can highlight to the government where investment should be focused. These upgrades can relate to transport and digital connectivity, as well as other infrastructure requirements, such as increasing energy capacity in local networks, which will be key to facilitating Britain’s transition to net-zero by 2050.

Hinterland transport links, in particular, is fundamental for the movement of goods and passengers. The UK’s motorway and trunk roads networks are managed by the various parts of central Government around the country, while local roads are owned and funded by local authorities. These last-mile connections are often essential to ports but not always treated in a strategic way. Improved and increased rail access to the national network is also sought by many in the ports sector.

As the country moves towards net zero, electrification of infrastructure is becoming essential and separately as ports embrace the smart and invocation agendas they will need to be better connected digitally.

This exercise is open to all UK ports and terminals and it closes on 7 September. Those ports who wish to submit proposals to the Port Connectivity Review can do so here, or by emailing info@britishports.org.uk for more information. 


Global competitiveness is encouraging Western European ports to be more efficient and innovative. In large and complex port environments like Portsmouth International Port, there are numerous opportunities for efficiency gains.

So, how do ports take advantage of advances in data science and the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to help them digitise their operations and prepare for the future?

The answer lies in cross-sector co-operation. The port is a partner in the SPEED (Smart Ports Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Development) Interreg 2 Seas project, which is encouraging innovation by forming collaborations between businesses, start-ups, universities and ports across four countries.

As part of the project, the port is proposing 3 challenges for software entrepreneurs to develop mobile apps that will help improve port productivity.

These challenges are:

  • An air quality app: Measure the air quality in ports and optimise potential impact. Predicting poor air quality may help to plan port logistics earlier and optimise the impact on air quality.
  • A pilot boarding app: Facilitating improvement of the 3-way information split between pilotage provider, ship and ship agents.
  • A berth auction app: Enable ship owners or charterers to check the number of vacant ‘slots’ alongside their ships with showing the suggested price.

Bournemouth University, who are one of the project’s partners, is using a portal to enable the stakeholders to contribute to the SPEED project and to also add their innovative ideas (referred to as challenges on the portal).

If you are interested collaborating with us on the development of these apps, please visit https://speed.wazoku.com/ccc/speedportal to find out more.




Has Blockchain struggled to find a purpose, beyond powering cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin?

This BBC article reports on how some big businesses, like shipping giant Maersk, have been incorporating the technology into their operations.

maersk-port-harbour-shippingMaersk uses blockchain technology in TradeLens, a new system for tracking customs documentation on goods that are shipped internationally. The idea is that any stakeholder in the process, from a port to a customs authority, can quickly lookup details relating to a shipment.

‘Maersk says that 10 million shipping events are now registered in the system every week. Unlike Bitcoin, TradeLens uses a permissioned blockchain, this is a non-public ledger to which access is controlled, but a similar system could be achieved with other technologies such as cloud-based ledger databases that encrypt data and control who can access what information.

Click to read more >>>

UK Government announcement for Innovative new Freeports across the UK 10th Feb 2020


‘Innovative new Freeports across the UK as Government lays out plans to boost economy’

New hubs of business and enterprise will be opened across the UK ‘creating thousands of jobs, regenerating communities and turbocharging Britain’s post-Brexit growth’, the Government announced today (Monday 10 February).

‘Freeports will unleash the potential in our proud historic ports, boosting and regenerating communities across the UK as we level up. They will attract new businesses, spreading jobs, investment and opportunity to towns and cities up and down the country. This is all part of our mission as an open, outward-looking country, championing global free trade with vibrant Freeports that work for all of the UK’

Up to ten new innovative Freeports will be opened across the UK as the Government seeks to level up the country and seize on BREXIT opportunities. A consultation has been launched setting out the Government’s vision for Freeports, with the aim of announcing the location of the new zones at the end of this year so they can be open for business in 2021.

Click to read more >>>

Policy paper | Maritime 2050: Navigating the Future 24th Jan 2020
The government’s vision and ambitions for the future of the British maritime sector.

Click to read more >>>

Port Hosts Portsmouth Postgraduates for Insight into Maritime Sustainability 10th Dec 2019

Postgraduate students from the University of Portsmouth, accompanied by principal lecturer Dr. Jonathan Potts, recently took part in a visit to Portsmouth International Port.

Helping to broaden their working knowledge of the maritime industry, with a specific focus on operations and sustainability at the port, students on the course investigate solutions for conserving our coasts and oceans, and also study Portsmouth’s diverse marine environments, wildlife, urban development and maritime heritage.

Click to read more >>>

New Marine and Maritime Hub Launched in Hampshire 19th Aug 2019

The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has announced it will be launching a new UK body – Marine UK Solent.

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How to Build the UK’s first SMART Port 8th Feb 2019

Johnny Hugill, lead researcher at PUBLIC, and Nick Chubb, co-author of PUBLIC’s report Frictionless Tradelook into building the UK’s first Smart Port following its announcement in Maritime 2050.

Launched alongside governments Maritime strategy, Frictionless Trade is their own report’ on the future of the UK’s maritime sector which outlines the key technology capabilities that the UK must embrace to protect and consolidate its place as an international trading powerhouse.

Click to read more >>>

The British Ports Association recently produced a video which highlights the importance of ports to the UK’s economy.

Where is support offered?

The SPEED programme aims to build a common approach to facilitate the development of data science applications for port logistics problems, supporting the Western European ports and port stakeholders who benefit from improved technology adoption and a joint technology roadmap.