Ten UK companies ready to make their mark on the offshore wind industry started their journey with Launch Academy, an award-winning technology acceleration programme, this week.
Launch Academy, run by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, kicked off its latest national nine-month programme in Edinburgh with companies from across the UK that are developing technology solutions to address prevalent challenges within offshore wind.
The technologies represented include innovative radar coupled with AI to identify marine life, solar-powered airships, a subsea energy storage system and a mechanical alternative to grout.
Alex Louden, Senior Technology Acceleration Manager at ORE Catapult, said: “We are excited to be starting this journey with 10 new companies aiming to accelerate their technology and make a dynamic impact on the offshore wind industry.
“Innovation in the UK supply chain is essential if we are to meet the UK Government target of 50GW of offshore wind by 2030, and industry focused solutions, such as those pursued by these companies, are crucial to success. In the last three years of Launch Academy, we have demonstrated what can be achieved when innovation and collaboration is championed, and we will continue working with our companies and expert partners to drive the industry forward.”
Launch Academy has been running since 2019 to enhance the UK’s offshore wind supply chain, enable greater UK content, and reduce costs through innovation. In that time, 28 companies have progressed through the regional and national programmes, over £15 million has been raised in investment, and participating companies have taken on 50 new staff.
The latest national Launch Academy programme will run from now until December 2023 and is sponsored by leading industry giants bp, Ørsted, Equinor and RWE.
Daniel Mendes Franco, Technical Manager in Floating Wind at Equinor, said: “To scale floating offshore wind in the UK and around the world, innovation is critical to both lower costs and to achieve standardised approaches to project delivery.
“Equinor is delighted to support the National Launch Academy’s 2023 cohort of innovators, with a particular focus on floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea. We are interested in developing gigawatt-scale floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea, and innovation programmes like the national Launch Academy can stimulate new approaches to solving the industry’s challenges, which ultimately improve Equinor’s ability to deliver on our ambitions.”
Wildcat Films and Built-ID are two of the 10 companies that won a place on the Launch Academy programme.
David Baillie, Director at Wildcat Films said: “We are very excited that participation in Launch Academy will provide the opportunity and support to develop a new and disruptive combination of radar technology and AI for ornithological surveying. We are especially grateful for ORE Catapult ’s recognition that although our main business is outside the offshore renewable energy sector, our fresh perspective and access to alternative technologies has resulted in a genuinely innovative proposition.”
Savannah de Savary, CEO at Built-ID added: “We’re absolutely delighted to be joining the programme and look forward to the expert insight, guidance and network we’ll now have access to.”
The nine-month programme will deliver bespoke support through a series of modules delivered by ORE Catapult and expert partners. These include legal, marketing, export, accountancy, intellectual property (IP), investor readiness, technology assessment, and business case reviews – worth around £25,000 per company. At the end of the programme, companies have the chance to pitch to ORE Catapult’s network of private investors.