With the UK aiming to increase its installed offshore wind capacity to 30GW by 2030, the prize has never been greater for high-growth potential companies with innovative solutions to common industry problems.
But for an early-stage company – or even an established player moving into renewables – accessing the funding necessary to develop a product or commercialise it in the sector can be challenging. The Offshore Wind Innovation Competition was launched by the Catapult in 2018 with the aim of making that tough transition easier. For the first time ever, it put tangible connections with potential clients and investors within reach for the high-growth potential SMEs with the most promising technologies.
It issued a call for solutions to specific industry innovation challenges identified by ScottishPower Renewables (SPR). Successful entrants were then given the chance to access the Catapult’s test and validation facilities and pitch their ideas to SPR and investment group Green Angel Syndicate.
After the entries were assessed, 11 companies pitched their solutions to SPR. Two companies secured new research and development projects with a combined value of £1.66 million. Three technologies have been selected for a priceless demonstration opportunity at an SPR offshore wind farm, four received letters of support for investment, and five more research projects are under development.
The runaway success of the Competition – which was shortlisted in the 2018 Scottish Green Energy Awards’ Most Innovative Project category – has been the Bristol-based subsea survey firm Rovco. After its successful entry, Rovco went on to secure a £1.2m Innovate UK-funded research project to commercialise its 3D vision system for subsea survey, bringing on board SPR and the Catapult as partners. Following continued success, it secured investment from Global Marine Group in January 2019.
The company aims to triple its headcount and estimates its export revenue at £20m per year before 2025 – demonstrating how big the results can be when the right combination of ideas, funding, and potential market comes together.