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New funding links Scottish businesses with latest R&D support and expertise

Published 25 April 2019

A new initiative launching this month from the Knowledge Exchange Network (KEN) pledges to give Scottish businesses a head start in developing offshore wind products and services by accessing academic expertise.

The Energy Technology Partnership (ETP) is an alliance of 13 Scottish universities offering world-class capability and resources in energy technology development. Through KEN, which is funded by Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, it provides Scottish technology developers with access to the nation’s leading academics and researchers.

The scheme encourages entrepreneurs and developers from other industries to bring their innovative ideas and technologies to the table, particularly those at the early stages of development, and encourages bids from smaller businesses that lack in-house development skills. The programme will take successful applicants from feasibility studies and modelling right through to testing and validation for the next stage of development.

The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, which is the UK’s leading technology innovation and research centre for offshore renewable energy, will help identify the brightest ideas and ways of commercialising them.

ORE Catapult’s Alex Louden, who leads Wind Business Development for the ETP, believes that today’s first-footers in technology development will be in pole position to exploit the global offshore wind market opportunities.

“We are living through one of the biggest energy transitions in human history – wind energy has gone from almost zero to a multi-billion pound industry in the UK in just a few decades. Like the first Gold Rush or oil pioneers, those with the spark and invention to get into the industry now will live to see this market boom in the coming decades.

“Some of the ideas we have taken through the ETP have started out as sketches or almost back-garden experiments. Others are game-changers from the country’s larger manufacturers. Where you start from is not important, what we are looking for are ingenious ideas that can tackle some of the industry’s key technology challenges.”

One company to have benefitted from the scheme is Argyll-based Renewable Parts, founded by entrepreneur Ewan Anderson in 2011. Renewable Parts identified a gap in the market: a lack of a reliable and sustainable system for sourcing spare parts for wind farms. The angle he chose was ingeniously green – refurbishing old parts instead of sourcing new ones, which also helps the industry keep its costs down.

Find out more about our academic collaborations in Circuit Magazine