Today (Wednesday) nine companies across Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex celebrate the successful completion of the first East of England Launch Academy, an award-winning technology accelerator programme aimed at revolutionising the UK’s offshore renewable energy sector, from the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult.
The graduation ceremony took place at The Hold in Ipswich, marking a significant milestone for the cohort company’s journeys in the offshore renewable energy sector. The companies graduating were Extend Robotics, Fern Communications, Recyclatrack, Exo Engineering, Urban XR, Aquaterra Energy, Front Technologies, Mission Zero Technologies and Haven Dredging.
Launch Academy East of England was developed following the success of previous national and regional Launch Academy programmes that have supported 47 companies, raised £25.2m in private investment, £7.8m in grant funding, and had 48 patents filed across the UK since 2020.
Stephen Wyatt, Director of Strategy and Emerging Technologies at ORE Catapult, said: “Strengthening the UK’s offshore supply chain is crucial for a smooth transition towards our net zero targets and represents a huge opportunity for businesses across the UK. For the first time, Launch Academy East of England has equipped companies in the East Anglia region with the necessary tools and knowledge to thrive in the offshore renewable energy sector – tapping into the wind industry in the region.
“The impressive growth and innovation within the 2023 cohort demonstrates that these companies have the potential to bring groundbreaking advancements to the offshore energy sector, promising an exciting future.”
James Lee, Director at Norfolk-based Urban XR, said: “We kept track of opportunities offered by ORE Catapult and were lucky enough to be chosen for Launch Academy East of England.
“With the support and expertise gained from Launch Academy East of England, we will be exploring the market potential for an enhanced Rehearsal of Concept approach within the industry called ROC.AR. As an outsider to the industry, we will use Launch Academy East of England experts to help us develop the concept to a workable offer that can apply for funding.”
Jake Storey, Executive Director of Essex-based Haven Dredging, said: “We recognised that Launch Academy East of England was a unique opportunity for our business, and we were keen to leverage the chance to delve deeper into the offshore renewable industry, and better understand its dynamics and fine-tune our value proposition accordingly. By maximising ORE Catapult’s resources and expertise, we will now be able to position ourselves strategically in the market, gain a competitive edge and achieve sustainable success.
“With the support and guidance gained from Launch Academy East of England, we’re aiming to achieve significant growth and secure potential investors. The modules offered invaluable tools and knowledge that will help us to reach these objectives.”
Clive Cushion, Technical Director at Suffolk-based Fern Communications, added: “With the support and expertise of Launch Academy East of England, we have been offered opportunities for greater exposure within the offshore renewables industry.
“Our goal is to encourage the industry to adopt F-Trax as a market-leading personnel tracking system. We have a working prototype that we have been testing for several months and have already received interest from energy developers such as RWE. Collaborating with their team, we’re poised to deploy the system offshore for real-time testing in the coming weeks.”
Funding for the programme was provided by ORE Catapult, leading offshore wind developer RWE, Norfolk County Council, Essex County Council, and Suffolk County Council, with pro bono support from Marks & Clerk, Birketts, and Lovewell Blake.
David Terry, Supply Chain Development Manager at RWE, said: “Launch Academy is proving a very important support programme for companies developing opportunities in the market, and RWE is delighted to offer sponsorship and expertise to provide market knowledge and project information where we can. This year’s Launch Academy cohort has proven their commitment, innovation and entrepreneurship in offshore wind.
“RWE is one of the world’s largest offshore wind developers, with plans to invest €55 billion worldwide in green technologies in the years 2024 to 2030. We are fully committed to both driving innovation and supporting supply chain growth across all phases of an Offshore Wind Farm’s lifecycle – from development, through construction and operation, to end-of-life decommissioning.”
The graduation celebrated the progress achieved by the companies following six months of specialised training and tailored support modules provided by ORE Catapult and its expert partners. These include legal, marketing, export, accountancy, intellectual property (IP), investor readiness, technology assessment, and business case reviews.
For more information on Launch Academy East of England, go to: https://ore.catapult.org.uk/what-we-do/innovation/launch-academy/launch-academy-east-of-england/