Robotics & Autonomous Systems

Find out more about our robotics and autonomous systems testing and validation facilities.

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Electrical Infrastructure Research Hub

The Catapult has appointed the University of Strathclyde and the University of Manchester to form the Electrical Infrastructure Research Hub.

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Automation & Engineering Solutions

Find out more about our work in robotics, autonomous systems and artificial intelligence.

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Stay Current

Dig deeper into the biggest issues facing offshore wind, wave and tidal energy with our series of Analysis & Insight papers.

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Live Innovation Opportunities

There are a number of programmes identifying the key technology innovation challenges faced by the offshore renewables industry. Solving these challenges will help drive down the cost of offshore renewable energy, with positive effects for the industry and UK economy. Visit our Live Innovation Opportunities page to find out if your technology has the answer.

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Offshore Wind

MARLIN STAR project spearheads development of innovative floating renewable energy platform

A new project set to revolutionise local renewable energy generation, storage and use has been launched, led by Plymouth-based technology developer Frontier Technical Ltd.

The £1.4million MARLIN STAR project, funded by the Energy Catalyst programme, will progress the development and commercialisation of an innovative modular, floating renewable energy platform that will enable coastal community access to stored and transferable clean energy.

A UK-based consortium, led by Frontier Technical, will deliver the project, which has huge export potential to countries where remote off-grid coastal communities can benefit directly from local offshore renewable energy generation.

The platform will be capable of hosting a wind turbine with capacity up to 2MW, as well as onboard energy storage and transfer capabilities. Its controllable float modules fit into standard ISO shipping containers and assembly completed underwater without the need for large port infrastructure or heavy floating crane vessels.

The MARLIN modular floating platform is the patented invention of engineer Trevor Hardcastle. He said:

“Our intention is for the configurable MARLIN floating platform to be a UK innovation success story. We will apply UK research, technology and manufacturing expertise and export to countries in need of replacing fossil fuels and wood burning with cost-effective sustainable renewable energy that can be operated and maintained locally.’’

“I’m excited to see the Frontier Technical vision starting to take shape and look forward to working with our partners in the project”

The UK consortium partners include the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, which will undertake market analysis and the mechanical testing, assembly and initial demonstration of the floating platform. Durham University’s Energy Institute (DEI) will carry out sociotechnical research in island communities in Bangladesh and India. Engineering services firm Francis Brown Ltd will progress offshore fabrication and Tension Technology International will be working on an innovative synthetic mooring and anchoring system, with Plymouth Marine Laboratory deploying and testing the platform offshore. The consortium will also be joined by India-based The Energy and Resources Institute, providing social science research in coastal communities in Gujarat state in India.

Stephen Robertson, ORE Catapult’s Head of Business Development, said:

“The MARLIN STAR project is a great example of UK ingenuity and collaboration, with huge potential as a floating wind solution for powering off-grid coastal communities. We are extremely pleased to be part of a consortium responding to the call of an international innovation challenge, especially as it reinforces the UK’s strengths in offshore renewable energy”














Notes to Editors

About the Energy Catalyst Round 7 Programme

The Energy Catalyst project is a result of up to £32 million of investment from Innovate UK (part of UK Research and Innovation), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Department for International Development (DFID). This is in innovation projects as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and Transforming Energy Access (TEA) programme. The aim of this competition is to support highly innovative, market-focused energy solutions in any technology or sector. Projects must encourage the development of products and services that help countries in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia or both regions access secure, low cost and low carbon energy.

About Frontier Technical Limited

Frontier Technical has a focus on the commercialisation of the patented ‘MARLIN Modular Floating Platform’ technology, a ‘Subsea Tug’ for underwater construction, and an ‘Energy Transfer Shuttle’. The technology will provide a commercially viable offshore wind energy solution for deeper waters. The disruptive and enabling innovation will accelerate the build-out of floating offshore wind and provide ‘Global Energy Access for Coastal Communities’ including Small Islands Developing States (SIDS). The main innovation is based on subsea construction under controlled buoyancy conditions entirely eliminating the need for large marine construction yards and heavy lift crane vessels. Frontier Technical works collaboratively with industrial, academic and public body organisations to develop innovative solutions that will contribute to addressing several of the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

Frontier Technical has been trading since September 2015 providing collaborative research and development project monitoring contract services to Innovate UK the UK Government Innovation Agency.

About the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult

ORE Catapult was established in 2013 by the UK Government and is one of a network of Catapults set up by Innovate UK in high growth industries. It is the UK’s leading innovation centre for offshore renewable energy.

Independent and trusted, with a unique combination of world-leading test and demonstration facilities and engineering and research expertise, ORE Catapult convenes the sector and delivers applied research, accelerating technology development, reducing risk and cost and enhancing UK-wide economic growth.

Active throughout the UK, ORE Catapult has operations in Glasgow, Blyth, Levenmouth, Aberdeen, Hull, the South West and Wales.

About The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)

TERI is an independent, multi-dimensional organization, with capabilities in research, policy, consultancy, trainings and implementation. We are innovators and agents of change in the energy, environment, climate change, biotechnology and sustainability space, having pioneered conversations and action in these areas for over four decades. Our research, and research-based solutions have had a transformative impact on industry as well as communities. We have fostered international collaborations on sustainability action by creating a number of platforms and forums, as well as created grass-roots value chains for ensuring the sustainability of our interventions on ground.

About Tension Technology International (TTI)

Tension Technology International (TTI) is an independent consulting group specialising in flexible tension member systems.

TTI is an independent research, design and development company.  Established in 1986, It has consultants based in the UK, Holland, USA and China. TTI’s services include design, engineering and testing of fibres, wire and fibre ropes, chain, cables, umbilicals, fabrics, mooring systems, riser protection nets and subsea tethers.

About Francis Brown

Francis Brown was formed in 1903 and is recognised as a global leader in the supply of fabrication and engineering services to the Renewables, Chemical, Oil and Gas, Rail, Nuclear, Power and Construction markets.

As a family run business – now in its fourth iteration of family leadership – we are known across the world as a leading and independent supplier of complete turnkey engineering solutions that are cost effective, highly compliant and made safely.

About Plymouth Marine Laboratory

For over 40 years we have provided evidence-based environmental solutions to societal challenges by applying cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research that benefits society and promotes stewardship of marine ecosystems. Since 2002, and in association with a wide range of national and international partners, we have provided these capabilities as an independent company limited by guarantee with charitable status.

About Durham Energy Institute (DEI)

Durham Energy Institute (DEI) supports and produces cutting-edge energy research which draws on the expertise of world-leading researchers across Durham University’s departments in Science, Social Science and Humanities.

Offshore Wind, Research & Innovation, Wave & Tidal

Bombora and ORE Catapult collaborate to develop co-located floating wave and wind technology

Wave energy developer Bombora has joined forces with the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult’s Marine Energy Engineering Centre of Excellence (MEECE) in Wales to launch a cutting-edge floating wave technology research project.

The research will carry out a techno-economic appraisal of extending Bombora’s mWave™ technology into an offshore environment and will investigate the feasibility of co-location with floating wind structures.

Bombora’s patented membrane mWave wave energy converter offers a unique opportunity to rapidly develop a floating wave platform solution. This solution offers major advantages in relation to increased infrastructure utilisation and maximising capacity.

Sam Leighton, MD of Bombora said:

“We believe Bombora’s mWave technology offers an innovative solution that can meet the demands of the rapidly expanding offshore energy industry and reduce the levelised cost of energy. Increasing the cost effectiveness of projects by sharing the expense of joint infrastructure, such as the floating platform, moorings and export grid connection to shore will inevitably drive down costs.  Our research project with ORE Catapult is an important development stage to prove this potentially market disruptive solution.”

Dr Paul Ellsmore, MEECE Programme Manager for ORE Catapult added:

“This collaborative project cuts right to the heart of two important areas for innovation in offshore renewable energy right now – the development of wave energy and floating wind. To unlock the potential of co-locating these two technologies could be potentially game-changing for the sector.”

“Wales is the ideal location for this type of innovative project, being home to a number of wave and tidal developers and a prime location for floating wind development. We will apply our unique combination of technical expertise and research and testing facilities at MEECE to support innovative projects such as these and companies like Bombora.”

The UK has enough natural resources of offshore wind, wave, and tide to provide all the country’s energy requirements, including transport and heating, with spare for export to Europe.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) suggests global offshore wind generating capacity will be in excess of 500 GW by 2050.

Global investment in offshore wind projects between now and 2030 is likely to exceed £250bn. Offshore renewable energy is on course to provide much of the affordable and secure power needed to grow the UK economy and, when combined with the global export potential, represents the largest clean growth opportunity for the UK economy.

Bombora’s 1.5MW mWave Pembrokeshire Demonstration Project, supported by £10.3M European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, is on schedule. Full marine consent for installation off the coast of Pembrokeshire has been granted as the project moves into the assembly phase. Taking mWave further offshore will increase the capacity of the technology and open new markets and opportunities for large scale utility generation.

“Collaborating with a world-class research and test institution such as ORE Catapult’s MEECE places Bombora at a big advantage to capitalise on the floating offshore market opportunity. We are committed to driving innovation in the renewable energy sector and to making the advancements needed to benefit the environment and consumers.” said Chris Williams, Bombora’s Commercial Manager.

ORE Catapult has recently opened its Marine Energy Engineering Centre of Excellence (MEECE) in Pembroke Dock, South West Wales. MEECE aims to accelerate the growth of the UK supply chain in the offshore renewable energy sector, leading to increased jobs, productivity and exports.

MEECE will work with Welsh Universities and with the Marine Energy Test Area, to deliver innovation projects on behalf of Welsh companies, to demonstrate, verify and validate new technologies.

Offshore Wind, Operation & Performance

New call seeks solution to improve safety of offshore technicians during COVID-19 pandemic

ORE Catapult, in partnership with the KTN, G+ and Workboat Association, seek rapid solution to increase physical separation during small vessel transit for offshore wind turbine technicians   

A new innovation call seeking a solution to increase the physical separation of technicians in the  confined spaces of offshore crew transfer vessels (CTVs) during the COVID-19 pandemic has launched today (Thursday 7 May), aimed at improving the safety of personnel required to continue to travel to undertake wind farm inspection, maintenance and repair.

Social distancing measures due to COVID-19 are forcing some operators to limit CTV operations to a maximum of four passengers, a considerable reduction from the usual 12 or 24. This impacts the amount of work that can be undertaken on a wind farm, affecting jobs and ultimately energy production.

In response, ORE Catapult’s O&M Centre of Excellence is working with the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), offshore wind health and safety group  G+ and the Workboat Association to set up a cross-sector CTV innovation challenge in search of a rapid solution, such as a partition, that can be deployed onboard the vessels and allow an increase in passenger and crew numbers.

The challenge was identified by members of the Operational Contingency initiative, established by ORE Catapult’s O&M Centre of Excellence in response to the Covid-19 crisis. COVID-19 is creating unprecedented challenges for the global offshore wind industry, and this initiative brings together wind farm owners, OEMs, supply chain, membership bodies, Government and regulators to address the key issues and challenges being faced.

Chris Hill, ORE Catapult’s Operational Performance Director, said:

“Being able to operate and maintain the UK’s offshore wind fleet safely in the face of COVID-19 is essential to keep the lights on and safeguard thousands of jobs. It will also be vital in accelerating UK economic recovery and meeting our decarbonisation targets as we exit this crisis.

“Our Operational Contingency initiative has responded quickly to the unprecedented challenges we are faced with and is moving quickly to find and implement solutions in support of business continuity and the safe operation of critical clean energy infrastructure.”

The innovation call presents a significant commercial opportunity to the successful solution provider, with the potential to offer the solution to workboat operators in other industries.

Kate Harvey, General Manager of the G+, said

“As offshore wind farm generation continues to be required, G+ members across the globe are looking for innovative ways to keep their workers safe. The G+ is hopeful that this project will uncover solutions that can ensure this and are delighted that the Workboat Association is also involved so as to ensure that any solutions are able to work in practice.”

Kerrie Forster, Chief Executive of the Workboat Association, added:

“It is within our interest to ensure that safety levels on board workboats are maintained to the highest standards at all times, whilst also working hard to increase safe pax numbers on board enabling our clients the most efficient and professional service. Together we are looking for innovations and possibilities to help us reach our ambitions.”

Chris Bagley, Head of Infrastructure Systems, KTN said:

“KTN’s OWIX platform is designed to promote innovation transfer between sectors, often bringing to the attention of challenge holders novel solutions from smaller providers outwith their own industry area.  Many of KTN’s teams have had to pivot to deal with the fall out from Covid-19 and the OWIX system is ideal to help solve critical industry problems. This is a crucial challenge and KTN’s reach across diverse sectors including Materials, Composites and Health will prove invaluable to sourcing an innovative solution to it.”

For more information on the innovation call, and to submit a solution, visit the Offshore Wind Innovation Exchange (OWiX). 

Offshore Wind, Operation & Performance

Digital twin solution to transform offshore wind management

James Fisher Asset Information Services Ltd. (JF AIS) and ORE Catapult partner to transfer digital twin technology into offshore wind sector.

The digital asset and data management specialist, JF AIS, has completed a critical research project with the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, the UK’s leading technology innovation centre for offshore renewable energy, supporting new technologies with ground-breaking potential.

Adopted by the supermajors in oil and gas, R2S produces virtual walk-throughs embedded with data, enabling personnel to remotely visit sites and easily access technical and operational data – saving time and cost, improving safety, and enhancing collaboration.

Both organisations identified the technology could offer game-changing benefits to the offshore renewables industry. As such, JF AIS undertook a pilot project, recreating a data-rich digital twin of ORE Catapult’s Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine.

Lorna Bennet, mechanical engineer with ORE Catapult, said:

“We believe  that R2S’ technology could revolutionise offshore wind O&M. By digitalising the Levenmouth Turbine, the digital twin has proven to be a unique solution enabling technicians and interdisciplinary teams to view the turbine’s inner workings and all pieces of equipment anywhere, at any time. This has enabled remote inspection of the turbine, boosting the planning of operations and reducing the need to go offshore. It has also changed the ways individuals are working – generating significant time and financial savings.”

Laura Fairley, JF AIS market development manager:

“Collaborating with ORE Catapult has increased our understanding of the sector and demonstrated how our technology brings value to offshore wind clients. With offshore turbines getting bigger and more powerful, operations and maintenance costs have escalated. R2S has proven to be an effective planning tool. We are confident our digital twin solution will eliminate non-essential journeys to offshore wind farm sites, but also facilitate the training and familiarisation of teams before deployment.

JF AIS is now looking to work with Vattenfall on the European Offshore Wind Demonstration Centre. We are looking forward to working closely with the developers to unlock the power of their data.”

From the hugely successful project, R2S is now expected to further support offshore wind by transforming wind farm management and turbine inspection methods.

Notes to editors:

From its origins revolutionising the capture and presentation of crime scene and supporting incident investigation for police, government and the forensic sector, R2S has developed its capabilities for other industries.

Recognised as a game-changing solution in oil and gas, the technology has been adopted by supermajors, National Oil Companies (NOCs) and niche operators for over 10 years. As an effective asset management tool, R2S has played a key part in major digitalisation programmes and helped global clients reduce the need to go offshore, improve efficiency and enhance safety.

Offshore Wind, Research & Innovation, Robotics & Autonomous Systems

One small step for BladeBUG, one giant leap for the wind industry

Walking test success for novel inspect-and-repair robot as team announce integration into the ambitious MIMRee system for autonomous operations at offshore wind farms.

The latest round of testing of the BladeBUG inspect-and-repair robot for offshore wind turbine blades has successfully concluded at the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth.

The six-legged blade crawler has now reached a major milestone in development under a £1 million project – BladeBUG 2, partly funded by Innovate UK, enabling technical integration to begin with the ambitious MIMRee system for fully autonomous wind farm operations.

During the trials, which took place in early March, the lightweight robot walked on blade surfaces, proving the stability of its vacuum adhesion technology and its dexterity in adapting its gait to the varying curves of the blades. Ancillary tethers, which would allow the robot to operate for extended periods offshore and enable rapid deployment to and from blades, were proven.

With these capabilities now firmly under its belt, BladeBUG will begin integration into another Innovate UK funded project, MIMRee (Multi-Platform Inspection Maintenance and Repair in Extreme Environments), where it will operate alongside other robotic and autonomous systems.

MIMRee is a £4.2 million consortium project, led by Plant Integrity, that is developing fully autonomous inspection and repair missions to offshore wind farms. An autonomous vessel will act as a launch platform, deploying teams of drones and BladeBUG robots to inspect, test and repair blade surfaces.

During the project, BladeBUG will be integrated with:

  • A robotic repair arm for resurfacing damaged blades that is now fully developed by the Royal College of Art’s Robotic Laboratory;
  • Wootzano’s novel electronic skin for the blade crawler’s feet that allows it to sense the quality of attachment to blade surfaces;
  • A human-machine interface developed by Professor Sara Bernardini of Royal Holloway University of London; utilising mission planning technologies used in space exploration;
  • A novel inspection drone developed by the universities of Bristol and Manchester, and the Thales Halycon autonomous vessel; and a non-destructive testing payload developed by Plant Integrity.

Technologies like BladeBUG, which reduce manual working at offshore wind farms, are an essential ingredient for the expansion of renewable energy, according to Chris Hill, Operational Performance Director at ORE Catapult. “Inspection and maintenance of wind turbines at sea are mammoth tasks for technicians, who largely manually test and repair tens of millions of bolts, thousands of blade surfaces at significant heights above sea level, or as part of the foundations or cables at the seabed. This work is conducted in challenging conditions, subject to delays and downtime.

“The BladeBUG concept recognises that there is a safer, more cost-effective and efficient way of working. If advanced robotics can take on some manual tasks offshore, we can move our future jobs towards more data-driven, remote supervision onshore – expertise that will be in high demand in the future global economy.”

With this expanding vision for the robot, BladeBUG has also won a place on ORE Catapult’s National Launch Academy initiative, a technology accelerator programme for the offshore wind industry, focusing on near to market solutions. The BladeBUG team has also grown from one to six full-time employees. Chris Cieslak, the founder of BladeBUG, explains the company’s growth since it first entered an ORE Catapult SME incubation programme:

“The BladeBUG journey has moved at a fast pace since our first conversations around the concept with ORE Catapult back in 2015. Our latest developments are informed by observers from several global wind industry operators: their feedback on requirements and regulatory issues is crucial in getting our product to the commercialisation stage. Also, working with ORE Catapult’s National Launch Academy for SMEs entering the offshore renewables arena is helping us translate our technological achievements into a marketable product.”

Testing & Validation

ORE Catapult Testing Facilities Resume Full Operations

The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth has resumed testing and validation activity after introducing measures to ensure staff safety during the COVID 19 pandemic.

A key part of the UK’s national infrastructure for clean energy, ORE Catapult is undertaking critical research, test and validation programmes that are fundamental to progressing major offshore renewable energy projects and growing essential UK supply chains to meet economic growth and decarbonisation targets.

ORE Catapult’s Test Facilities Director, Tony Quinn, said: “Whilst many of our staff continue to work remotely where they are able to do so, the restart of key programmes across our world-leading blades, powertrains, electrical and subsea testing facilities will ensure that the UK can continue to address it’s binding net zero targets and drive economic growth and job creation that will be more important than ever in the coming months”.

Offshore Wind, Research & Innovation, Testing & Validation

ACT Blade proves yacht-racing inspired concept for world’s lightest wind turbine blade

Successful trials at ORE Catapult’s test and validation facility in Blyth pave the way for installation of world’s lightest wind farm blade at an operational wind turbine

ACT Blade, a spin-off company from UK yacht-sail developer SMAR Azure, has announced that it has successfully completed the first of two tests of its novel lightweight blade for wind farms at ORE Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth. These tests will pave the way for its first operational deployment later this year.

Made up of an internal composite structure and high-tech textiles, as opposed to the prevailing fibreglass, ACT’s blades are 24 per cent lighter. A lower weight means blades can be made 10 per cent longer than the standard 55 metre blade around today: producing nine per cent more energy and reducing the cost of energy by 6.7 per cent.

This first of two static tests took place at the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult’s Blade Test Facility in Blyth. Over three weeks, a full-length blade (13m) withstood the world’s toughest simulation of offshore wind conditions, aimed at testing its structural integrity and durability to the limit.

The test results showed that the blade could withstand extreme loads and every type of direction and twist, going beyond those predicted for an in-service turbine. Post-test inspections show it to have held its shape with no damage. The test data–including optically measured strain and deflection results from within the blade textile–are now being analysed to gain a fuller understanding of the blade’s behaviour.

ACT Blade was founded in 2015 as an offshoot of the established yacht-sail design company SMAR Azure Ltd. The team’s ingenious blade concept was based upon the realisation that the light, durable structure of yacht sails could be adapted for offshore wind turbine blades.

Dr Sabrina Malpede, CEO at ACT Blade, commented:

“I realised that the offshore wind industry was engaged in the same race as we were in the yacht-racing world: we need to reduce loads and capture more wind power without compromising on durability.”

“Today, I am delighted that after three projects funded by Innovate UK, we have proven our concept. I would like to thank all our partners who have made this breakthrough possible: ORE Catapult, Advanced Materials Research Centre, Advanced Forming Research Centre, the Energy Technology Centre (ETC) and  InnoEnergy.”

Over the next six months, ACT Blade will work with the Energy Technology Centre to prepare for installation of three blades on a working wind turbine at the Myres Hill Wind Farm in Scotland, as a further step towards commercialisation of the blade concept.

Dr Stephen Wyatt, Director of Research & Disruptive Innovation at ORE Catapult said:

“This is great news for the development of novel wind turbine blade designs, ensuring we can continue to improve offshore wind productivity and reduce costs, embedding offshore renewables at the heart of the UK’s  future energy mix. The ACT Blade team has pushed the limits of what is physically possible, putting UK technology in pole position in the innovation race. It’s also an inspirational story, showing how an Eureka moment can be turned into a future export that could generate billions in revenue for the UK. We’ve come a long way since Sabrina first answered one of our Innovation Challenges back in 2015, and I am excited to see the journey ahead.”

Find out more about upcoming innovation challenges for the offshore wind industry that are open to UK SMEs. 

About ACT Blade

ACT Blade Ltd was founded in November 2015 following the completion of a feasibility study conducted in collaboration with DNV-GL and Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult. This study demonstrated the ACT Blade is not only technically viable, but it can also offer significant LCOE savings. The founders are Dr Sabrina Malpede (Managing Director), Dr Alessandro Rosiello (Finance and Non-Executive Director) and Dr Donald MacVicar (Technical Director). The team’s first successful venture, SMAR Azure Ltd, is the market leader in tailored computerized design and analytical software for the marine industry. Their products are used by over 200 users, including two certification agencies (Lloyd’s Register and RINA) in 30 countries. The R&D team comprises specialists in aerodynamics, structures mechanical and composite engineering.

Data & Digitalisation, Offshore Wind

Wind industry unites to drive sector’s digital transformation

ORE Catapult launches its Wind Digital Innovations Forum

With big data, digitalisation and cybersecurity hot topics for the wind industry, the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult is spearheading the sector’s digital transformation through its Wind Digital Innovations Forum (WDIF).

A joint initiative with the Digital Catapult, the Forum was formally launched in February 2020 and is chaired by Mike Anderson, co-founder and ex-Chief Technical Officer for RES, and current Chair of ETIPWind. It brings together wind owner/operators and asset managers including BayWa, Vattenfall, Innogy, Natural Power and Wood, with academia and small innovators, such as Cognitive Business and Cyberscape, to drive forward the sector’s digital transformation.

The group’s work will build on the ORE Catapults’ extensive experience and existing portfolio of wind related digital and data initiatives such as SPARTA, WEBS and POD and will focus on four key strategic work programmes:

  • Cyber Security – investigating the importance and ease with which security could be breached, especially with the proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) technology being used by data owners and their supply chain.
  • Data Maturity – looking at how data owners use data within their businesses and the proliferation of data analytics to improve performance and reduce operational costs.
  • Data Integration – in conjunction with the data landscape programme developed by ORE Catapult and Accenture, this workstream will investigate systems and operational data “touch points” within data owners.
  • Digital Supply Chain Engagement – engaging with the Digital Catapult to translate wind industry challenges and market opportunities into the technical language of the digital supply chain, whilst mapping the best-in-class game changers in IoT, artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

The outcomes from the three work programmes will be available exclusively to WDIF members.

Vattenfall Head of Offshore Wind, and Chair of WindEurope, Gunnar Groebler, said: “Digitalisation is at the top of our agenda. It will offer us a large potential for further cost improvement, for example via the development of data-driven models and operations for the maintenance of our wind farms. Our company is focussed on continuous automation, especially with regard to the operation of our assets optimised for the electricity markets.”  With 1GW of operating wind in UK, and a further 4GW in development, Vattenfall sees participation in the WDIF as a valuable opportunity in achieving its ambitions.

Steve Ross, ORE Catapult’s Data and Digital Business Lead, said: “The WDIF is a unique collaboration of data owners and solution providers, working together to overcome some of the key data issues facing the wind industry and offering their own perspectives on how we might tackle them. The Forum will also develop disruptive strategies to help progress the digitalisation of the sector as well as potentially starting to develop standards and protocols for data management that do not currently exist.

“In order for the Forum to be a success, we need as wide a representation from across the industry as possible, bringing together different perspectives, viewpoints and ideas. Data management and cybersecurity are beginning to impact on all areas of the offshore wind industry, and so I’d encourage as many companies as possible to consider the benefits of being a member of the WDIF.”

George Garforth from Innogy added: “The WDIF is an exciting collaborative approach to developing digital solutions to the problems faced in wind farm operations. The Forum facilitates collaboration between operators and technology firms on key digital topics such as data integration, cyber security and artificial intelligence. This feels like an opportunity to make genuine progress in an area which desperately needs it.”

For more information, and to express an interest in joining, please visit our Wind Digital Innovations Forum or contact ORE Catapult’s Data and Digital Business Lead Steve Ross

Offshore Wind

Six Technology Trailblazers Enrol in Catapult’s North East Cleantech Accelerator Programme

£20,000 investment available for offshore wind technology development through Launch Academy North East and North East Innovation Fund. 

Six UK innovators have won out against fierce competition to secure a place in the first intake of the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult’s industry-backed regional cleantech accelerator programme, the Launch Academy North East.

From high quality applications, six companies were selected by a panel made up of industry representatives from ORE Catapult, EDF Energy, Royal IHC, Northstar Ventures, Sintons Law, Blu Sky, Newcastle Eagle Lab and TusPark Newcastle.

The successful companies – OxraGrid, Origin Tech, Beluga Seatech, Utility AR, Wootzano and Build Stream – are all developing ambitious and innovative cleantech solutions in order to enhance the North East of England’s offshore wind supply chain and drive cost reduction through innovation.

The companies will now undertake a 12-week programme of core modules provided by the partners, including funding, legal, IP, accountancy and investor readiness support, as well as modules delivered by ORE Catapult such as technology assessment, supply chain readiness and business case review. In addition, they will each access £20,000 of investment, provided by the North East Innovation Fund, supported by the European Regional Development Fund and managed by Northstar Ventures.

James Battensby, ORE Catapult’s Head of Research Business Development, said: “The North East of England has long played a pivotal role in the energy innovation landscape. Launch Academy North East will continue this tradition accelerating new products and services to market which will support the low carbon transition. The Offshore Wind Sector Deal has ambitious targets to create 27,000 jobs and £2.6 billion in exports by 2030, and so supporting innovative new companies will be critical to achieving this goal”

Stephen Price, Investment Director for Northstar Ventures, said: “We’re delighted to be working with this ambitious programme that is supporting an industry sector with huge growth potential for the North East and beyond.  Through the programme, we’re looking forward to backing some exciting, early stage technology businesses, which have the potential to address some of the key challenges in the sector.”

John Marsden, Commercial Director of Origin Tech, said: “It’s a brilliant opportunity for us to work with the blue-chip industry partners and showcase our innovative technology. The Launch Academy will provide us with the insight and renewable industry market drivers that will massively accelerate our commercialisation. Being based here in the North East is testament to how well the regional supply chain can support the future of offshore wind.”

The Launch Academy North East initiative focuses on cleantech technology solutions across challenge areas such as digital applications for offshore assets, predictive maintenance, robotics and artificial intelligence and energy system management. The companies will have the opportunity to develop their innovations and demonstrate them to potential investors.

To find out more about the programme, visit


Information About The North East Fund

The North East Fund is a suite five venture capital and loan funds which was established in April 2018, to invest £120m in around 600 North East businesses in the period to March 2023.  The fund managers provide business development advice and investment finance to small and medium sized enterprises based in the seven Local Authority areas of North East England: Northumberland, North Tyneside, Newcastle, South Tyneside, Gateshead Sunderland and County Durham.  The programme encourages investment in and the commercialisation of new technologies, including low carbon technologies, as well as stimulating new business creation, private investment and entrepreneurialism in the North East, with a view to creating over 2,500 new jobs.  The North East Fund has overall responsibility for the programme, which is delivered through five separate funds, each managed by independent, FCA regulated fund managers.  Details of these, and up to date information on the progress of the programme, is available on The North East Fund’s website:

The North East Fund has been established with funding from the North East of England European Regional Development Fund programme, the European Investment Bank and from returns on previous North East based, publicly supported investment funds.  It is jointly owned by the seven North East local authorities.


Information About the European Regional Development Fund

The North East Fund will receive up to £58,500,000 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.  The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.  Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit


Information About the European Investment Bank

The European Investment Bank (EIB) will lend up to £60,000,000 to the North East Fund programme.  The European Investment Bank is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals.  For more information, visit:


Offshore Wind, Research & Innovation

Ten Technology Trailblazers Enrol in Catapult’s National Launch Academy

Ten innovators have won out against fierce competition to secure a place in the first intake of the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult’s industry-backed national technology accelerator programme, the Launch Academy.

From 44 applications, 24 companies were selected to pitch to a panel made up of industry representatives from ORE Catapult, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE), Red Rock Power Limited (RRPL), ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) and Quaybridge.

The 10 winning companies,   Greenspur Wind Ltd, BladeBUG Ltd, Offshore Survival Systems, First Airborne Britannia, Ventus Engineering GmbH,  Microsense Technologies Ltd, Renewable Dynamics, Intebloc, ZX Lidars and REOptimize Systems – are all developing ambitious and innovative technologies that could be game-changing for the offshore renewable energy industry, making a critical impact on technological advancement.

The companies were asked to pitch against specific industry-sponsored challenges from SGRE and Red Rock Power covering innovative sensor technologies, wind measurement, whole wind farm control and eliminating technician risk in wind farm heavy lifts.

There was also an Open Innovation Category, sponsored by ORE Catapult, Quaybridge and SPR, for companies developing an innovative product or service that could either reduce costs, reduce risk or increase the efficiency of offshore wind farms.

The 10 winning companies will now undertake a programme of mentoring and industry support, individually tailored to suit their own business needs.

Andrew Tipping, ORE Catapult’s Commercialisation Manager and Director of the Launch Academy said: “All of the winners are developing unique solutions that we believe will make a significant contribution to the UK offshore wind sector, supporting its continued growth. To deliver a low-carbon future and meet the UK’s ‘net-zero’ target by 2050 will require at least 75GW of installed offshore wind capacity – that’s 10 times what we have installed today. The UK is going to need new innovative, technological solutions in order to deliver that volume of production.”

Scott Love, Engineering Manager at Red Rock Power Limited, said: “The quality of the entries and pitches for the first tranche of the Launch Academy were extremely high, and the panel faced a difficult job, over three days, to select the winning 10 companies.

“We are passionate about incorporating the latest innovative technologies, products and services into the day to day running of our current and future projects to improve efficiency and performance, safeguard the health and safety of our offshore personnel, and help to drive down costs as a result.

“The Launch Academy cohort represent a wide spread of technologies and companies that can hit the ground running or who we can work with to ensure they are supply chain ready to support our projects in the future.”

Chris Briggs, Regional Innovation Manager from Siemens Gamesa, commented: “The innovation challenges we have set through the Launch Academy are challenges that equipment manufacturers and developers are faced with in the real-world today. We believe that the winning companies are all developing promising ideas and solutions to those challenges which, if successful, could have a real and positive impact on the next generation of offshore wind technology development.”

The Launch Academy initiative focuses on near-to-market solutions and is supported by eight industrial and business support specialists providing the cohort with the support they need to help get their technology to market. The programme starts on the 3rd March with partners including Red Rock Power, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE), Barclays Eagle Labs, investment body Green Angel Syndicate, accountancy firm BDO, IP specialists Murgitroyd, law firm Shepherd and Wedderburn, developer Ouaybridge and ScottishPower Renewables. ORE Catapult will also use its technical expertise to assess the technologies, their supply chain readiness and their business case.

The programme aims to unlock private investment into offshore wind technology. The cohort will have the opportunity to pitch to ORE Catapult’s network of investors, such as Foresight Williams, who are taking a keen interest in the programme. “Since launching the Foresight Williams Technology EIS Fund, we have built a strong relationship with ORE Catapult and appreciate the flow of investment opportunities presented to us. In 2019 our fund invested a total of £4m into two companies introduced by ORE Catapult and we look forward to continuing to grow the relationship and supporting businesses within the Launch Academy,” Matthew Burke, Head of Technology Ventures, Williams Advanced Engineering.

The Launch Academy Programme is also seeking mentors to guide the successful applicants through their commercialisation journey. To find out more about the programme, and to apply to become a mentor, visit our website.


Sponsoring Organisation Winning company Location Technology
ORE Catapult, Ouaybridge and SPRGreenSpur Wind LtdHatfield, HertfordshireA revolutionary ferrite-based direct-drive (DD) permanent magnet (PM) generator for large offshore wind turbines
BladeBUG LtdLondonA unique walking robotic platform designed to remotely carry out detailed inspections, maintenance and repairs on wind turbine blades
Offshore Survival SystemsEdinburghOffshore Survival Systems aim to revolutionise ‘Far from Shore’ operations by introducing unmanned, and semi-automated lifesaving vessels available on permanent standby operation
First Airborne BritanniaEssexFirst Airborne is developing a fully automated airborne platform & service permanently stationed within large infrastructure facilities – primarily offshore wind farms. Key applications include constant wind farm performance monitoring, and structural inspection on demand.
SGREZXLidarsLedburyDeveloping a novel low-cost, easy to install lidar to support individual wind turbine control.
Ventus Engineering GmbHHead office in Vienna, Austria, but will invest in the UK and open a UK office in Edinburgh.Ventus novel TripleCMAS blade sensor technology converts the rotor and entire swept area into a monitoring instrument for existing and future off- and onshore wind turbines. It is a cost-efficient, easy-to-use, robust and modular rotor monitoring technology.

This solution can also be developed into an overall wind farm wake management system and to improved WTG health forecasting for setting up predictive maintenance programmes.

Microsense Technologies LtdEdinburghInventor and patent holder of a revolutionary new sensor technology, bringing precise, real-time monitoring and actionable intelligence to key offshore assets, through compact, non-contact sensors that help companies dramatically reduce waste, increase production efficiency, meet environmental standards and improve their profits.
Red Rock Power LtdRenewable DynamicsGlasgowDeveloping a novel Wind Farm Control solution to optimise the economic return of merchant wind farms, reacting to market prices and wind conditions while managing the life of the wind turbines.
InteblocAberdeenTransformative solutions for more efficient, safer lifting. Their technology solutions make significant health and safety improvements to the lifting environment, in any industry
REOptimize SystemsEdinburghProviding optimisation tools to improve asset performance. Their key product ACTOS is a revolutionary system for the optimisation of wind, tidal and hydro turbine control parameters.
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