A new industry-backed national technology accelerator programme has been launched by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, designed to support innovative SMEs to commercialise new technologies that will enhance the UK’s offshore wind supply chain, enabling greater UK content, whilst supporting cost reduction.
The Launch Academy initiative will focus on near-to-market solutions and is supported by eight industrial and business support specialists 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 and ScottishPower Renewables. The national programme will be supported by a number of regional feeder programmes, with the first of those in the North East of England.
The bespoke nine-month programme will see a cohort of eight promising companies being given access to a unique package of support from the delivery partners, including legal, marketing, accountancy, IP, HR and investor readiness support as well as modules delivered by ORE Catapult such as technology assessment, supply chain readiness and business case review.
At the end of each cohort, the innovators will pitch to the strategic partners and the Catapult’s network of investors with the aim of securing investment and a route to market for their products.
Andrew Tipping, ORE Catapult’s Commercialisation Manager, said: “This transformative programme is designed to enable offshore wind developers and equipment manufacturers to identify winning innovations in a complex landscape and act as a launch pad for companies to get their technology noticed and unleashed into the market.
“Almost half of start-ups fail in their first four years of operation, and it’s rarely from the lack of a good idea. Very few have the combined industry, business growth and productivity knowledge to succeed, and that’s where initiatives such as the Launch Academy play a vital role.
“Our programme is designed to accelerate innovations that will reduce costs, increase UK content, create jobs, and help build the wind farms of the future.”
Guy Madgwick, CEO of Red Rock Power Limited, said: “Innovation is vital in order to meet the ambitious growth targets set out by industry in the Offshore Wind Sector Deal. Incorporating innovative technologies, products and services into the day to day running of offshore wind farms will improve efficiency and performance, and help to drive down costs as a result, but more importantly allow new opportunities to safeguard the health and safety of our offshore personnel.
“The Launch Academy will play a key role in helping us to identify SMEs and innovators we can work with and ensure they are supply chain ready to support our future projects.”
Chris Briggs, Regional Innovation Manager from Siemens Gamesa, added: “We will be setting a number of technology innovation challenges that equipment manufacturers and developers are faced with in the real-world and asking applicants to come forward with ideas and solutions. The best candidates will be chosen to go forward and receive support from the Launch Academy partners.”
Green Angel Syndicate is also backing the initiative. Founder Nick Lyth commented: “I believe this is a terrifically visionary initiative. For us, it’s incredibly important to have a strong pipeline of process and technology innovations that support the growth of the UK’s offshore wind sector. The Launch Academy will make a real difference in enabling companies to attract investment and equity funding to support the launch of successful new products and services into the market.”
Companies will be asked to submit solutions to a series of technology innovation challenges set by Red Rock Power and SGRE. The eight most promising solutions will be selected by a panel of experts to join the Launch Academy cohort. Potential applicants can find out more and apply at https://ore.catapult.org.uk/launch-academy.
The success of the programme will be measured by the number of innovative solutions securing contracts, demonstrators or R&D partnerships with end users as well as the number and scale of investments.