Technology Strategy Board Seeks Bids to Run Offshore Renewable Energy Technology and Innovation Centre

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The establishment of a UK centre of excellence to support the development and commercialisation of offshore renewable energy technologies across the country drew closer today as the Technology Strategy Board (http://www.innovateuk.org) announced that it is seeking expressions of interest from organisations that might lead or form part of a new Offshore Renewable Energy technology and innovation centre.

Technology Strategy Board seeks bids to run Offshore Renewable Energy technology and innovation centre

The establishment of a UK centre of excellence to support the development and commercialisation of offshore renewable energy technologies across the country drew closer today as the Technology Strategy Board (http://www.innovateuk.org) announced that it is seeking expressions of interest from organisations that might lead or form part of a new Offshore Renewable Energy technology and innovation centre.

Secretary of State for Business, Vince Cable said:
    “An offshore renewable energy technology and innovation centre is the next step towards fulfilling the Government’s commitment to creating a greener economy.

    “The UK is a world leader in offshore engineering and our reputation makes us an excellent location for research in this area. It is vital we invest in renewable energy now to gain maximum     benefits in the future. This is an exciting opportunity to bid and become involved in supporting the growth of the UK economy.”

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said:
    “The Government’s continued investment in technology and innovation centres will make sure the UK stays at the forefront of global innovation and technology. The centres will play a vital part of the UK’s future innovation landscape and enable world leading businesses to emerge.”

    “There is huge potential for growth in the sector and the prospect to generate billions of pounds     for the economy whilst creating thousands of job opportunities at the same time.”

Announcing the opening of the process to establish the centre, Iain Gray, the Technology Strategy Board’s Chief Executive, said:
    “Our reputation and expertise in offshore engineering makes the UK an excellent base for innovation relevant to the emerging offshore renewable energy sector. By bringing forward technologies for offshore wind, wave and tidal power, the centre will accelerate commercialisation across the sector. It will pull together UK strengths in research, design, offshore engineering and device/component development. Innovation could accelerate large-scale, commercial deployment in all aspects of offshore renewables and, crucially, reduce the cost of energy generated.”

The Offshore Renewable Energy centre will be the third of a network of technology and innovation centres to be established by the Technology Strategy Board, with a government investment of more than £200 million over the next four years. The first two centres announced relate to high value manufacturing and cell therapies. The centres will be drivers of future economic growth, attracting substantial investment to establish world-leading capability and global impact in pre-commercial development.

The Offshore Renewable Energy technology and innovation centre will provide improved access to the best technical expertise, infrastructure, skills and equipment, including those scarce resources which companies, particularly small ones, can seldom afford alone. It will provide a national focus for joint work between businesses and the research base, creating a critical mass of activity which will benefit the wider offshore renewable energy sector, and beyond. The centre will attract work and engagement from a wide cross-section of industry ranging from multinationals to small businesses, and will work closely with the best universities and technology organisations in the UK and internationally.

The centre is likely to cover the range of technologies involved in offshore wind power development – transferring knowledge from the established offshore engineering industry into foundations, installation, connection, operations and maintenance but also into developing turbines, blades and other subsystems/components, where links with the UK’s lead in high-value manufacturing technologies such as composites, direct drive and control systems may help drive success in these areas.

Marine power – wave and tidal – is further behind wind in terms of its development and deployment but will also be a key focus of the centre, drawing as it does on many of the same underpinning science and engineering capabilities. Over time, the expertise of the centre could also be applied to other areas of offshore energy technology.

The deadline for registration is 25 August 2011 and organisations must submit their expressions of interest by 1 September 2011. Selected organisations will then be invited to submit full proposals, by 17 November 2011. The successful bidders will be announced in December 2011 and the centre will begin operations in the summer of 2012.

Detailed information about the call for expressions of interest can be accessed from the Technology Strategy Board website - http://www.innovateuk.org

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Nick Sheppard
Technology Strategy Board
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