'People ask when the renewables revolution is going to start, but it already has'
EXCITEMENT about the renewables boom has swept the city as businesses await news of prospective contracts.
This month, the eagerly anticipated announcement is expected from energy giant Siemens, which many hope they will be welcoming into the region.
But Team Humber Marine Alliance (THMA) – the industrial group that works with marine engineering-related companies to help them find new opportunities in the market – is confident the opportunities in renewables are already filling the region.
The not-for-profit membership group's director Mark O'Reilly said there are already plenty of opportunities for businesses in this developing sector.
He said: "People say, 'when is it going to start happening?', but it has.
"So many companies in this region are winning business and a lot of our companies are making it happen."
THMA has a rapidly increasing membership, currently more than 160, giving a true sense of strength in numbers.
It has quickly become the Humber region's main recognised brand for marine engineering-related contracts in the six key sectors of renewable energy, offshore oil and gas, commercial shipping, inland waterways, defence and security and nuclear energy. Mark said: "We are interested in engineering and manufacturing – that's the main focus of Team Humber.
"It is fantastic, working with these companies.
"That is why we put so much effort into it.
"We can't lose these opportunities. We need people to invest. We can't just say we have got these capabilities around the Humber – there has to be more."
For Mark, a huge part of the success of THMA is collaboration – giving companies the chance to gain contracts with the help and support of each other.
Mark said: "I love the whole concept of collaboration and I thought there was something in that.
"Collaborating is so important. I think it is one of the biggest things."
Mark said this collaboration enables the small companies to be able to work on things together, helping them gain more business.
"Collaboration allows the smaller businesses to bid for bigger projects they may never have got the chance to do usually.
"That has always worked well and it makes it easier for the companies to come together."
Mark joined THMA five years ago.
The organisation was previously funded by Yorkshire Forward and was put into the hands of the agency's not-for-profit company Ven Management, which Mark was part of.
But when the Government decided to end the regional development agency model, THMA was bought out by Mark's own business Square Five consultancy, which also took on the contract for the Yorkshire Gold Business Club – established to help Yorkshire companies compete for contracts linked to the London 2012 Olympic Games. Now, THMA runs as a not-for-profit company and according to Mark, is on the way to being sustainable now it has got more members.
And as the renewables revolution unfolds, Mark said he believes the region is on the way to creating the world's largest renewable energy cluster.
He said: "There's something to talk about in this region.
"Everyone is interested in what we are doing in Hull."
Mark said as news begins to unravel about the potential energy business in the Humber region, he thinks there will be even more activity coming than there is here now.
He said: "The companies will get more and more involvement in potential contracts but you can't just sit back and wait for people come to you."
The businessman, who has been in the industrial sector for 25 years with the bulk of that time in the automotive industry, is now set on promoting the organisation to others and making people aware of the company's success stories.
Mark said: "THMA started as a fairly small organisation but it has greatly developed over the years.
"Our biggest focus is on offshore wind. It affects all of our members.
"We had built up a momentum and we wanted to keep the organisation going in a sustainable manner and we managed to do that.
"We have gone from 40 members to 160 members.
"But we are still letting people know what we do.
"We've certainly not had this level of collaboration before.
"It has worked well. We need to work with people for the good of the region.
"It is all about trying to help companies and getting the positive stories out there. Being bold is what we have to be about."