Strong UK economic and job growth opportunities identified in new Science and Innovation Audit

Published 22 September 2017

A new audit of the offshore renewable energy industry in the North of England and Scotland demonstrates the strong contribution the region makes to the UK’s position as a global leader in innovation in offshore renewable energy.

The report highlights the area’s world-class research in the field of offshore renewable energy, the strong supply chain, and the many innovation programmes and strong collaborations between industry and academia.

It was noted that the number of people directly employed in offshore wind in the UK could double between 2017 and 2032, meaning there is an immediate need to join up education and training providers with the future industry demand for a higher-skilled workforce with key skills in areas including engineering and manufacturing.

The Offshore Renewable Energy Science and Innovation Audit (SIA) was one of eight audits commissioned by Government to set out the UK’s strengths in key areas. The audits help regions to map their research and innovation strengths and identify areas of potential global competitive advantage.

This SIA focused on the international competitiveness of the research and innovation activities in Northern England and Scotland in offshore renewable energy, the future needs in innovation and the skilled workforce in the sector.

The audit looked at the offshore renewable energy sector at major ports in the North East, Tees Valley, Humber and Liverpool local enterprise partnership areas and Scotland.

Led by Newcastle University, the project saw collaboration between Scottish Enterprise, the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, four Local Enterprise Partnerships and Durham, Liverpool and Hull Universities.

The audits are sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Business Minister Lord Prior said:

“The Science and Innovation Audits we are publishing today highlight the innovative strengths in regions across the UK and the significant growth and investment opportunities they present.

“Together with our record investment of an additional £4.7 billion for research and development to 2020/21, we are working closely with regional businesses and partners to ensure the ambitions set out in these reports are delivered to maintain our status as a science powerhouse.”

Professor Nick Wright, PVC Innovation and Business, Newcastle University, said:

“The SIA on offshore energy has confirmed that the North of England and Scotland together constitute a world-class cluster of activities in this crucial field. It was a great pleasure to see the wonderful progress being made across the board from offshore wind to wave and tidal energies and also see the future potential for this region. The report highlights some major opportunities for the cluster in terms of new technologies and we look forward to working with the Government to drive those forward.”

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) was among those involved in the project. The subsea and offshore sector has been identified as one of four key areas of opportunity in its Strategic Economic Plan.

Andrew Hodgson, North East LEP chair, said:

“The SIA was a fantastic collaboration between the organisations that came together to produce this important report.

“The North East is a world-leader in offshore and subsea technology. The region is one of six nationally designated Centres for Offshore Renewables Engineering.

“We’re delighted to have been a part of the audit, which has highlighted the globally-significant contribution the North and Scotland make to the UK through our strong offshore sector.”

Dr Stephen Wyatt, Research & Innovation Director for ORE Catapult, said:

“A strong science and research base in offshore renewable energy provides the support framework needed to allow UK businesses to flourish, creating jobs and economic benefit and attracting inward investment.

“Our ambition is for the UK to become world-leaders in innovation in key technology areas. Our strengths in robotics, artificial intelligence and composite materials, as well as our subsea engineering expertise, can see us take a leading role in areas such as floating wind, and in developing wave and tidal technology.

“This report is vital in supporting the forthcoming offshore wind sector deal to Government and proves confidence in the future of our sector.”

Download the Offshore Renewable Energy Science and Innovation Audit report here

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