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£3.5m North of Tyne programme seeks offshore innovators

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A new £3.5m offshore innovation programme has been launched today, primarily targeting supply chain companies located in the North of Tyne area with opportunities to fund and support technology innovation in the offshore wind and subsea sectors.

The Technology, Innovation and Green Growth for Offshore Renewables (TIGGOR) programme is being funded by the North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) as part of its wider Energy, Green Growth and Climate Change commitments. NTCA has partnered with the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, who will deliver the programme on their behalf.

ORE Catapult will, in turn, partner with the Offshore Wind Growth Partnership (OWGP) and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), who will part-fund and deliver a key strand of the programme. The initiative has received major industry backing from Equinor, joint venture partner and future operator of Dogger Bank Wind Farm, the world’s largest offshore wind farm that will have its onshore base at Port of Tyne, and EDF Renewables, which owns and operates the Blyth Offshore Demonstrator wind farm.

Businesses joining the programme will be able to access either competitive technology demonstration funding support or business growth support, depending on their needs. The technology demonstration support will be led by ORE Catapult, alongside Equinor and EDF Renewables, to provide technology assessment, advice and potential funding in areas such as robotics and autonomous systems, digital twins and next generation technologies for improved operations and maintenance.

Support for supply chain business growth will be delivered by OWGP, with input from the North East LEP’s Growth Hub, for businesses both in the North of Tyne area and also across the North East region. This will provide specialist innovation advice, market intelligence and business planning for organisations operating in the offshore energy sectors and those looking to enter the market. Access to other supply chain programmes currently run by ORE Catapult will also be incorporated, including Fit 4 Offshore Renewables and Launch Academy.

Jamie Driscoll, Mayor for the North of Tyne, said: “The energy sector is a major strength in the North of Tyne. This offshore innovation programme will create jobs and tackle the climate emergency and it provides a game-changing opportunity for our local companies. We will build on our world class assets to establish the North of Tyne as a world leader in clean energy.”

Sophie Banham, Digitalisation Manager for Dogger Bank Wind Farm, said: “The sheer size of Dogger Bank means it will be a really data-rich project, and so we’re excited that it has the potential to be a flagship project for digitalisation in offshore wind. There is a huge amount of value to be uncovered through innovation and new technology, and so plenty of opportunities for forward-thinking companies to get involved. We really want local businesses based in the North East to reap the benefits from having this landmark project on their doorstep, and are delighted to be part of this programme that will enable just that, at a time when job creation and business growth is needed more than ever.”

Andrew Clark, Energy Lead at the North East LEP, said: “The offshore wind sector offers huge potential for the North East in terms of job creation and business growth. This new fund, which we are able to support with our Energy for Growth funding, will not only give businesses the support they need to explore new technology and grow their business but will help new companies enter the offshore market, creating more and better jobs for our region.”

James Battensby, Head of Research Business Development at ORE Catapult, said: “The offshore wind sector represents a huge supply chain opportunity for the North of Tyne region with the UK estimated market valued in excess of £40billion by 2030. New innovation within the supply chain will be critical to achieving more UK content and supporting our green growth recovery in response to Covid-19. This regional programme will accelerate new products and services to market to support future export growth and addressing the windfarm technology challenges of tomorrow.”

Andy Macdonald, Programme Director, OWGP said: “This programme combines ORE Catapult’s innovation support and OWGP’s supply chain growth support to create a focused regional programme for high growth companies in the North of Tyne area.”

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