Thames Freeport - Britain's Trading Future

F R E E P O R T S O V E R V I E W [ 4 ] Skills Many respondents to the freeports consultation wanted to develop local skills to suit the needs of industries targeted by a freeport. This is supported by previous studies into seaside towns, which found that a historic focus on low-skilled sectors had been compounded by industrial decline, resulting in a poor skills base from which to attract new investment. Creating hotbeds of innovation Freeports will focus private- and public-sector investment in R&D. They will be dynamic environments that bring together innovators to collaborate in new ways, while offering controlled spaces to develop and trial new ideas and technologies. Innovation in freeports jointly supports other core freeports objectives as it creates new markets for UK products and services, and drives productivity improvements, bringing jobs and investment to freeport regions. Innovation at ports will also be a key aim of the 2025 Border Strategy. Innovation in freeports Innovative activity in freeport locations can be characterised into three distinct areas of focus. Freeports can focus on any, or all, of these in outlining their innovation ambitions. • Port-specific innovation — innovation that directly benefits air, rail or maritime ports, e.g. autonomous cranes and cargo- handling equipment, digital security and customs software that can track goods across a broader area • Port-related innovation — innovation that indirectly benefits air, rail or maritime ports or their supply chain, e.g. autonomous transport, modern methods of construction and industrial decarbonisation • Non-port-related innovation — innovation unrelated to air, rail or maritime ports that can take advantage of port-proximate locations or the freeport wider offer, e.g. pharmaceuticals, quantum technologies, advanced materials, robotics and AI. Freeport status could allow port operators and businesses to build on the thinking outlined in the Maritime 2050 strategy and Aviation 2050 consultation to generate technological solutions that could subsequently be implemented in other freeports, ports and other areas across the UK. Innovation activity As a hotbed for innovation, a successful freeport proposal will have considered the following: • Capability and Investment — Build and reinforce the capability for R&D in the freeport region, by funding and supporting private and public investment in research, innovation and skills within freeports • Collaboration and Commercialisation — Facilitate translational research, skills development and data-sharing in the Freeport region, by linking start-ups, businesses and ports with academic institutions, innovation structures and regulators • Novel solutions — Drive the development, testing and application of new ideas and technologies, including developing innovative solutions to problems faced by freeports. Economic levers and design of interventions The freeport model is geographically flexible. The Government has avoided a ‘one size fits all’ approach to ensure that all places have the opportunity to apply the model in the way best suited to their local economic geography. The proposed model allows for multiple sites to be designated within the overall freeport. This has enabled the best reflection of existing economic geographies; maximising collaboration between ports, businesses, wider stakeholders and relevant economic assets by allowing The Government has avoided a ‘one size fits all’ approach to ensure that all places have the opportunity to apply the model in the way best suited to their local economic geography Britain’s biggest construction processing terminal operated by Tarmac at Port of Tilbury