The Marine Knowledge Exchange Network (MKEN) is a rapidly growing network of cross-sector marine stakeholders.

We have the mutually beneficial aims of:

  • increasing capacity in stakeholder relevant marine and coastal research
  • ensuring marine and coastal research is delivering collaborative impact and application
  • helping to realise the social, economic and environmental potential of our seas and oceans.

How to get involved

Our network comprises over 1,100 stakeholders, all with a vested interest in the marine environment. We run and facilitate networking events, and targeted workshops throughout the year.

M-KEN organogram - circle chart showing 29% industry/business, 22% academic/researchers, and 49% policy/3rd sector

Members of the network are added to our mailing list and are the first to receive notifications of upcoming events along with our regular newsletter. Membership and almost all events are free. Whether your interest is business-related, policy related or research related we're keen to hear from you.

Get in touch


'Blue Futures’ is a collaborative, UEA-led project that connects academics, commercial organisations, practitioners and decision makers to explore potential future opportunities for New Anglia’s ‘blue’ economy.

We work in partnership with the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, the Environment Agency, Orbis Energy, the RSPB, Coastal Partnership East, Cefas and Blue Ltd., and funded by a Natural Environment Research Council Innovation grant.

The Blue Futures project ended in 2018. We thank everybody who was involved in their study and invite you to share this publication widely.

Download our Blue Futures Summary Report.

Our partners

Research team


Dr Trevor Tolhurst, UEA

Dr Martin Johnson, UEA/Cefas

Dr Sophie Day, UEA

Dr Irene Lorenzoni, UEA



Blue Ltd


Coastal Partnership East

Environment Agency

New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership

Orbis Energy



Blue Futures project: key aspirations diagram

Activities to date

The Blue Futures project combines a suite of innovative methods, specifically developed to help the team and our valued participants open our minds to potential long-term areas of sustainable ‘blue’ economic opportunity, linking terrestrial, coastal and off-shore activity:

  • Hind- and fore-casting: Looking 100 years back to learn how events and planned activities have influenced the present. Looking 100 years forward to anticipate potential future change and the legacy of present decisions (2016).
  • Scenario development and visioning: opening our minds to a range of possible futures and identifying how we would like the future to look and how this may be achieved (2016).
  • Card-sorting exercise: enabling the prioritisation of long-term sustainability targets and pathway opportunities for their delivery (2017-2018) in the context of specific locational transects (spanning land, coast and sea) of distinctive character.

Some key findings

New Anglia is unique, distinctive and has huge value socially, environmentally and economically

We should celebrate this and actively pave the way toward positive sustainability outcomes. New Anglia’s unique selling points in the future will be central in driving a stronger tourist economy and will come from recognising, protecting and nurturing our key assets – natural and habitat assets, renewable energy, regional food, local economic diversity and so on.

‘True’ sustainability

There is a need to genuinely embed sustainability into decision making (especially around economic investment) and practice more holistic planning across sectors. This will involve more robust valuation and accounting of environmental and social costs and benefits in economic assessments (recognising the fundamental and underpinning value of natural capital and ecosystem services on all sectors; including moving away from conventional measures of wealth to include health, wellbeing and so on).

Technology and innovation are fundamentally important and cut across traditional sectors and our aspirations for the future

Identifying regionally relevant key opportunity areas for research and development (e.g. renewable on- and off-shore energy, food security comprising agri-aquaculture and fisheries, engineering and skills development, etc.) and creating enabling mechanisms for the uptake of new technology will encourage innovation and enable the region to be a recognised leader in many aspects.

Heralding sustainability good practice

Investment in test-cases and good practice examples which can be learnt from and promoted is key, e.g. examples of adaptive coastal management in practice, partnerships successfully delivering change, sustainable business initiatives, new models of land management, and more.

Adapting to change

Adaptive and anticipatory practices will be a key feature of a sustainable future; preparing for and embracing change, and being ready to seize opportunities arising from system shifts.

Infrastructure is a critical cross-cutting constraint and opportunity

A key issue in visioning a future which more robustly connects on- and off-shore activity, with a view to generating greater economic opportunity in the future. Infrastructure relates to transport, energy systems, natural habitat, communications and more.


NERC is the funder of this project. We acknowledge the crucial input of our project partners and workshop participants, and are grateful to UEA and the Marine Knowledge Exchange Network for supporting Blue Futures.