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Port of Dover Eastern Docks scaled


Funding Awarded for Development of Marine Digital Twin of Dover Harbour


The Port of Dover and the Universities of Plymouth and Manchester have been awarded a £333,585 grant by Innovate UK to create and embed an AI-augmented digital twin of Dover harbour.

The funding underpins a three-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), that will harness the universities’ world-leading expertise in hydrodynamic modelling and cutting-edge research in AI and machine learning to create a transformative virtual model of the Port of Dover; with huge dividends to be gained for UK productivity – smoothing and enhancing the journey of £144bn worth of UK trade every year.

The enhanced digital twin will provide a dynamic 24-hour, 365-day all-weather simulation of the complex tidal flows across the harbour and predict with maximum confidence the conditions essential for safe navigation in the Port of Dover. As a result, the Port will be able to remain operational during harsher weather conditions and welcome larger vessels and an even greater range of cruise and cargo ships, enabling greater operational efficiency and an increased volume of UK imports and exports. 

Commenting, Doug Bannister, Chief Executive of the Port of Dover, said:

“We are delighted to learn of the award of this KTP and are thoroughly looking forward to working with the Universities of Manchester and Plymouth on this hugely exciting project, which will play a vital role in our journey to become the UK’s most seamless, sustainable, and tech-enabled port. The enhanced navigational analysis brought by the digital twin of Dover Harbour – Britain’s busiest Port – will extend our capability and operational hours and subsequently deliver a huge bonus of growth and productivity to the national economy.”

Commenting, Yu-wang Chen, Professor of Decision Sciences and Business Analytics at the University of Manchester

“This KTP is a great opportunity for the Universities of Plymouth and Manchester to form a strong partnership with the Port of Dover, integrate our knowledge across disciplinary boundaries to tackle real business challenges, and apply AI and emerging technologies to facilitate the digital transformation of the port.”

Dr Adan Lopez-Santander, Head of the Maritime Simulation Laboratory at the University of Plymouth, said:

“This an ambitious project and we are very excited about this collaboration with the University of Manchester and the Port of Dover. It presents a unique opportunity to bring together the knowledge of academia and industry, to combine our collective expertise and shape the port of the future. This experience will set a reference for the whole industry and has the genuine potential to bring benefits worldwide.”

The newly announced funding award for the KTP between the Port and these two world-leading universities forms part of a wider programme of digitalisation by the Port of Dover, including work on a similar land-side digital twin, using a digital transformation to support energy efficiency and decarbonisation, as well as using AI to optimise traffic flows and port operations. More information on these projects can be found here.


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Notes to Editors

  • The Port of Dover is closing the gap every day between the UK and the world by connecting trade, travel, visitors and communities locally-globally, collaborating with local and international partners to create a more seamless, sustainable and tech-enabled port.
  • As the UK’s busiest international ferry port and a vital gateway for the movement of people and trade, Dover handles £144 billion of trade per year, 33% of UK trade in goods with the EU and welcomes over 11 million passengers.
  • Dover is also an award-winning cruise port, delivering world class travel and visitor experiences to the most prestigious cruise lines. With a growing and diversifying cargo business operating from state-of-the-art facilities, a brand-new marina which is a major feature of the exciting waterfront development, and opportunities for further expansion in the future, Dover’s proud history dating back 400 years has a new modern twist.