University study highlights importance of collaboration across Channel

Stakeholders from across the English and French coastlines have met with the University of Chichester at a final conference to discuss how collaboration and cooperation across the region can ensure a sustainable future for the Channel.

The event, held in Rouen, northern France, marked the end of the four-year Channel Arc Manche Integrated Strategy (CAMIS) project which, together with 19 partner organisations, focused on supporting coastal communities across the region. It was also an opportunity for partners to showcase their research and to launch a new strategy which will be used to guide governance of the Channel for the future.

Staff from the University’s School of Enterprise, Management and Leadership met with businesses, politicians, and specialist institutions last week, including Dr Emma McKinley who said the project has been of significant value to the University.

She added: “It has led to the establishment of new partnerships with a range of organisations across the region, raising the profile of the University’s expertise, and generating research directly linked to influencing current UK and European policies. It has also strengthened our expertise around stakeholder engagement, and further underpins our ability to facilitate collaborative working and supporting business development and regeneration.”

The day-long event was opened by Devon County Council cabinet member Stuart Hughes and Haute Normandie Council deputy president Dominique Gambier, who introduced the CAMIS project and outlined the work conducted over its four-year lifetime. The University played a significant role within the project, focusing on the social and economic regeneration of small coastal communities through the development and exploitation of cluster activity in small ports and marinas. It also evaluated the role of the Channel Tunnel in transport across the region.

Alongside French colleagues, Senior Lecturer Dr Dawn Robins presented her findings on the importance of small ports in supporting local communities, before Dr McKinley spoke about the role of marine clusters in sustainable growth of maritime businesses and coastal community regeneration. The University have also produced a number of recommendations on best practice for port centric activity and developed a prototype online Channel Maritime Portal providing up-to-date information for Channel stakeholders and businesses.

Dr David Cooper, a Reader in Management and Economic Development at the University, said: “Through our work we have learned a good deal about maritime economies on both sides of the Channel and the similarity in the difficulties faced by small coastal communities.”

He added: “We have enjoyed working effectively with partners across the project and have made some long-lasting contacts and friendships. It has not always been easy as there are real business cultural and process differences between the two countries but these have been overcome and have contributed to our combined understanding.

“We have used the experience gained to undertake additional funded work on analysing the supply chains for the Sussex and Kent wind farms and also to inform strategy development work for the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership.”

To mark the end of the project, members at the event launched the new Integrated Maritime Strategy (IMS), complete with 23 actions for the future, which aim to help stakeholders in the Channel region to work collaboratively to create a sustainable future. The IMS will guide future national and EU policies, including supporting member states to meet objectives set by the Blue Growth Strategy, for future funding programmes to identify essential priorities for the Channel region.

To find out more about the CAMIS project, or the launch of the new Integrated Maritime Strategy,