Marine industry gets £8m efficiency boost

Posted on 20 Nov 2012

New research and development aimed at making marine vessels more efficient gets a boost as up to £8 million will be invested by government to support marine innovation.

The investment will be made by the Technology Strategy Board, the MOD’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and Scottish Enterprise through a competition for funding for fast-track, collaborative research and development projects.

Through the ‘Vessel Efficiency: Piloting Marine and Maritime Innovation’ competition for funding, which opens in January 2013, the Technology Strategy Board and its partners are seeking proposals from businesses to develop solutions covering a wide range of technology areas which have the potential to improve vessel efficiency in existing and future ships, boats, submarines, and their associated equipment and systems.

Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said: “The UK is well-placed to exploit future opportunities, domestically and globally, and the funding available through this competition aims to help grow the sector through building collaboration – including with small and micro companies – and developing the UK supply chain.”

The UK’s marine industries employ over 90,000 people, generate over £10 billion turnover and have tremendous prospects for growth through innovation, the Technology Strategy Board says.

“Both military and civil operators are faced with the same challenges of reducing fuel use, with the Royal Navy targeted to reduce fossil fuel use by 18% by 2020,” said David Sherburn, Maritime Domain Leader in Dstl. “Hence there is significant overlap in the utility of vessel efficiency technologies between the military and civil markets.”

Paul Lewis, managing director, sectors and commercialisation, Scottish Enterprise, said: “With over 40% of the UK’s shipbuilding sector and well over 400 companies involved in the marine industry supply chain, Scotland plays an important role in the UK marine sector.

By investing in this competition, we can help provide an opportunity for ambitious Scottish businesses in both the marine and adjacent technology sectors to develop new  commercially- focused marine products and services for international markets.”

This competition will fund projects within low carbon/green shipping and propulsion and marine ICT that can contribute to more efficiently designed vessels across all marine and maritime industries – commercial, defence and leisure.  Proposals should show that efficiency gains of a minimum of 5% for current vessels could be achieved, with targets of up to 25% on future designs.

There will be two streams to the competition.  Around 10% of the funding will be available for ‘fast-track’ projects, each lasting between 6 and 12 months.  These must be collaborative and led by a business, and include a small or micro business.  The second stream of funding will be for larger collaborative R&D projects, also business-led, which are expected to last between 12 and 36 months.