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New competition puts UK SMEs in investor spotlight

Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult programme links innovators with technology validation services, potential funders and clients

ScottishPower Renewables and Green Angel Syndicate to collaborate in offshore wind innovation drive

A new competition from the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult will, for the first time, enable innovative SMEs working in the offshore renewables sector to prove their technology and connect them with investors and potential clients.

The Offshore Wind Innovation Competition calls for technological solutions to specific industry innovation challenges, with successful companies able to access ORE Catapult’s world-leading market knowledge and test and validation facilities to de-risk their technology, as well as pitch their ideas to investment group Green Angel Syndicate and wind farm owner/operator ScottishPower Renewables.

The new programme follows ORE Catapult’s recent partnership with Bristol-based subsea services firm, Rovco, which will see the company test and validate its innovative new technology at ORE Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre after attracting an initial investment of £160,000 from Green Angel Syndicate.

As the UK offshore wind industry moves towards doubling its installed capacity to 30GW by 2030, delivering thousands of additional skilled jobs and billions of pounds worth of export opportunities, building a strong UK supply chain to service the industry is vital. Open to SMEs keen to work in offshore renewables, ORE Catapult’s Andrew Tipping says the new programme delivers a significant advantage to UK businesses.

He said: “Driving UK economic growth through support for high-growth SMEs is at the heart of the Catapult network’s mission. Our Innovation Competition seeks to match innovative technology developers with the three most important elements they need to commercialise their products: the market, owner/operators seeking solutions; a technology proving ground, the Catapult’s testing and validation facilities; and finance, the private investors who provide the essential capital to make it all happen.

“Innovation challenges have always been a key part of the Catapult’s offer, but never before has this proven method for accelerating technology development been backed up by private investment.

“By working with the sector’s biggest players to understand their innovation needs, we demonstrate a ready market for new products. We then identify the high-growth-potential firms developing technologies to fit those gaps, and work with them to test, validate and de-risk their solutions. The Catapult’s backing adds clout to these smaller firms, making them more bankable and an attractive proposition for investors.”

Green Angel Syndicate Director Nick Lyth added: “The vision to link innovation with enterprise and investment – inventor to customer to funder – is original and highly constructive.  It is the most practical possible intervention to accelerate the development required to meet the industry’s technology needs.  ORE Catapult is to be congratulated on conceiving and negotiating a real example of best practice in the sector and any other sector.”

“ScottishPower Renewables is committed to delivering innovative solutions which enable the widespread deployment of renewable generation,” said Anthony Kinsella, Strategic Innovation Manager for ScottishPower Renewables.  “For this reason, we are delighted to partner with ORE Catapult and Green Angel Syndicate on the Offshore Wind Innovation Competition, to support innovative companies and help them develop the products and services which will help the renewables industry continue to grow.”

There will be an Offshore Wind Innovation Competition information event in London on the 14th May. Please click here to sign up. 

For more information about the Competition, and to get involved, please visit the Innovation Challenges section of our website.

 

Case study: Rovco

Partnering with ORE Catapult is enabling Rovco to validate its cutting-edge live 3D visual subsea inspection systems, which could significantly reduce the time taken to complete subsea surveys and could cut inspection costs by 80%.

After securing Innovate UK funding to create both its 3D and Artificial Intelligence systems, Rovco is currently developing the technology before testing it at the Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth this summer. ORE Catapult also linked them with Green Angel Syndicate, and they secured an initial investment of £160,000.

Rovco has tripled in size since launching less than two years ago and is now setting its sights on becoming a market-leader within five years. Achieving this will put its estimated export revenue at £20m per year providing a potential boost for the UK offshore wind supply chain.

Brian Allen, CEO of Rovco, said: “Since we began working with ORE Catapult, we have increased our workforce from three to 10 people and boosted our turnover from £60k to an estimated £800k this year.

“It has been extremely beneficial having the Catapult on our side. In addition to providing credibility to a young company, they have provided support in many other areas. On top of the investment introductions and referrals, they were incredibly helpful when we were putting our investment pack together. We also worked very closely with them when applying for our Innovate UK grant funding bid, which has been instrumental in our further successes.”


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Lee Madigan

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