Oil & gas companies developing innovations and new business models to cut costs in offshore renewables could tap into a £6m grant fund to help.

After more than 50 years’ experience of developing new ideas and technologies in exploration and maximising production of oil and gas, businesses are being encouraged to adapt their ideas for offshore wind, wave and tidal power with the help of the SCORE programme.

On top of grant funding, successful applicants will have access to some of the UK’s leading figures driving innovation and developing renewables technology, and access to world-class test and demonstration facilities and laboratories through the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (ORE Catapult).

Johnathan Reynolds, of OrbisEnergy, the innovation and incubation centre delivering the SCORE programme of grants of up to £50,000, said opportunities were at every level of the supply chain across the East.

“We know we have some amazingly talented people and businesses with rich expertise across our oil & gas supply chain in the east. We’re now looking to support those firms with good ideas, technologies and solutions, which can be diversified into offshore renewables. The SCORE programme, with our specialist delivery partners, can explore this with them.

“They have been successfully supporting an industry for more than 50 years, more recently through a serious industry-wide downturn with a major drive to bring down costs through greater innovation and efficiency. Offshore oil & gas is now a very mature industry that has had to cut its cloth accordingly.

“On our coastline, is not only the UK’s gas basin but the largest concentration of offshore wind farms, operating and under development, anywhere in the world. While the offshore wind industry is driving its own cost reduction programme, the drivers are different.

“It’s about being competitive in a global market against other energy generation technologies; it’s about standing on its own two feet without the need for government subsidy; and it’s about the need to support UK-based supply chains that are dynamic and innovative, creating and supporting skilled jobs and growing economies.
Innovation was not just about technology, he said.

“SCORE grants are available for commercial innovation too. We are looking for new ways of doing business and new ways of thinking in the industry.”

“Whether it is around cable and pipeline protection, manufacturing and fabrication of offshore assets, wave and tidal energy systems as auxiliary power supplies, intelligent sensors and inspection methods or more efficient methods of crew transfer and movement, we want to hear about the innovations being researched and developed.

“Supply chain areas, such as operations and maintenance and asset integrity management, are where we see some of the bigger prizes for the East in the longer term. We are looking for innovations especially in this area.”

Small-to-medium sized companies will be able to secure grants of up to £50,000 to support their innovations for offshore wind, wave, tidal and other marine renewable sectors. Businesses must have a base in Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk, and Suffolk.

Having the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult as a SCORE delivery partner means companies could road test their ideas and technologies gaining advice from experts in different fields, he said.
“This SCORE programme is about more than just the grant funding. Companies can access advice and support and also specialist technical help with their developing applications.

“ORE Catapult is the UK’s flagship technology innovation and research centre for advancing wind, wave and tidal energy. It gives companies access to world-leading expertise and advice, facilitating access across industrial, research, and investor networks, to develop, de-risk and support the journey of bringing new technologies to market.”

Applications are already being received with a growing level of interest from firms keen to capitalise on new opportunities for growth and sustainability.

This SCORE programme is more than double the size of our previous round, which supported more than 50 companies, invested in 40 projects and created 70 new jobs.
This time, it aims to help more than 200 businesses and create 200 additional jobs for the region.

The programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and is open to companies with fewer than 250 employees and an annual turnover of less than 50 million euros. Grants are available for up to 40% of eligible costs or £50,000, whichever is the lower, with a minimum grant of £2,500. Start-up and established companies in the four counties can apply.

The funding is designed to help companies in a wide range of areas, including research and development, collaboration with universities and research bodies, securing patents, acquiring specialist equipment or services and investigating the commercial viability of processes and technologies.