Ten technology trailblazers enrol in Catapult’s national Launch Academy

Published 26 February 2020

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, 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 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, added: “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 represents 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, said: “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 SPR GreenSpur Wind Ltd Hatfield, Hertfordshire A revolutionary ferrite-based direct-drive (DD) permanent magnet (PM) generator for large offshore wind turbines
BladeBUG Ltd London A unique walking robotic platform designed to remotely carry out detailed inspections, maintenance and repairs on wind turbine blades
Offshore Survival Systems Edinburgh Offshore Survival Systems aim to revolutionise ‘Far from Shore’ operations by introducing unmanned, and semi-automated lifesaving vessels available on permanent standby operation
First Airborne Britannia Essex First 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.
SGRE ZXLidars Ledbury Developing a novel low-cost, easy to install lidar to support individual wind turbine control.
Ventus Engineering GmbH Head 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 Ltd Edinburgh Inventor 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 Ltd Renewable Dynamics Glasgow Developing 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.
Intebloc Aberdeen Transformative solutions for more efficient, safer lifting. Their technology solutions make significant health and safety improvements to the lifting environment, in any industry
REOptimize Systems Edinburgh Providing 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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