The Scottish Maritime Cluster is determined to enable economic growth, and a pre-requisite is to understand our current status.
The concept of a cluster forming a springboard to significant economic achievements is not new and the Scottish Maritime Cluster is certainly not the first in Scotland. One of the better known was led by Adam Smith with able support from his Edinburgh – Glasgow circle of Hume, Ferguson, Cullen, Black and Hutton during the second half of the eighteenth century. Indeed, a sentence from an early draft of the Wealth of Nations, which never made it into the printed version of 1776, chimes with our own ambitions, “It was a real philosopher [engineer] who could invent the fire engine [steam engine] and first form the idea of producing so great an effect by a power of nature which had never before been thought of”.
The invention of the steam engine was not the finished article and although a significant “game changer” required the input and collaborative effort from a wide range of disciplines over a significant period to make it a success. The speed of development, however, was hindered by protectionism, insular thinking, duplication of effort and an ignorance of useful available technology. As individuals and businesses, it is often difficult to see the bigger picture.
The Cluster has focused on the breadth of activity as well as its value, ably demonstrating that the Cluster is part of something very substantial within the Scottish economy. The Cluster also seeks to address the future and the challenges we will face, both as individual companies and collectively, in securing our long term goals. Understanding these, Scottish maritime businesses are in a position to decide what to do about them.
The opportunities offered by rapidly developing technologies are significant whilst at the same time a threat to those who fail to anticipate or embrace the potential. Appreciating the breadth and depth of activity within the maritime sector, collaborating and sharing, recognising that common solutions are possible without jeopardising competitive advantage will all hopefully increase as a result of working together. That is the basis on which a cluster can generate more growth than individual companies.
We have a propensity in Scotland to dwell on our past achievements, however, the challenges we face are in the now and the future. Success in the actions proposed, and in building our Cluster, will improve our economic prospects, investment opportunities and long term high value jobs in the maritime sector.