UK’s Portsmouth Minister Matthew Hancock has opened a new maritime centre, which will perform research into unmanned autonomous boats, submarines and other vessels.

The Centre for Maritime Intelligence Systems (CMIS) was originally announced by Prime Minister David Cameron in July 2013 and is a £4m project supported by the UK Government, industry and the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

This new centre will provide a common platform for academics, scientists, engineers and naval specialists at Portsdown Technology Park.

Hancock said: "This centre puts Portsmouth at the forefront of a growing £9bn a year market.

"This centre puts Portsmouth at the forefront of a growing £9bn a year market." 

"Whether it’s for environmental monitoring, gas exploration or clearing underwater mines, there is massive potential for unmanned vessels."

The UK CMIS centre will serve as a testbed for new systems and technology that can be marketed to defence and civilian customers worldwide.

An initial synthetic environment will be created by the centre, which will also perform de-risking and proof of concept activities for a maritime autonomous systems demonstrator programme.

Meanwhile, the maritime industry is set to form a start-up project team at the Portsdown Technology Park, under the support of the Solent LEP and University of Southampton.

The MOD will extend its support for the project by aligning more than £1m in research and development funding this year and in 2015, along with specialist advice.

The Solent LEP is also funding a £1m technology call for SMEs, which represents a total investment of more than £4m by industry and the government.