Multi-million pound boost for SMEs in offshore sector

A £2.8 million public-private initiative has been set up to support small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) expand into the offshore wind and marine energy supply chain. The National Renewable […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

A £2.8 million public-private initiative has been set up to support small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) expand into the offshore wind and marine energy supply chain.

The National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) based in Northumberland will help companies develop technologies to cut the cost of offshore installations through its Renewable Energy Technology Accelerator (RETA) project. It aims to support companies with the development and commercialisation of innovative products and services targeted at the offshore renewable energy sector.

Tony Ikwue, Innovation and Corporate Development Director at Narec said: “Narec has created this programme to build on the strengths of local engineering companies. Initial interest from industry has been extremely high and the projects selected will see new products being developed in the North East.

“There will also be knock on benefits by way of supply contracts and knowledge transfer opportunities for SMEs looking to enter these promising but still relatively immature industries.”

The scheme has launched with three projects – IHC Engineering Businesses’ Hi-Traq inter-array cable trencher for offshore wind farms, Tecnalia’s design and development of smart cable technology and Atlantis Resources Corporation’s innovative tidal turbine system.

The initiative, which runs until 2015, is expected to support 70 regional SMEs over its lifetime. The European Regional Development Fund Competitiveness Programme, which is managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government, is investing £1.39 million in the project.