Thirty-two UK companies from industries including oil and gas, aerospace and defence have joined companies already working in the renewables sector to begin the Offshore Wind Growth Partnership’s (OWGP) Wind Expert Support Toolkit (WEST) Pilot Programme.

WEST  will  support the growth of new and existing offshore wind supply chain companies by providing needs-focused expert business support, market intelligence, and insight into the sector for both existing and cross-sector supply chain companies. To meet the needs of the sector and build a strong UK supply chain that can meet the growth ambitions set out in the UK Offshore Wind Sector Deal, there must be a cross-transfer of knowledge, skills and technologies from other sectors. This, in parallel with strengthening the capabilities of existing supply chain companies, is a key focus for the OWGP and the WEST Programme.

More than 40 companies applied for the scheme, with the highest scoring applicants selected for support. The Programme will support companies with products and services across the full offshore wind farm lifecycle, from sub-sea survey and inspection, material and product manufacture, to safety, maintenance and operational services. Two waves of WEST activity will start in December 2020 and January 2021 respectively, with a total of £200,000 of funding allocated to support the companies.

The OWGP is a key part of the Offshore Wind Sector Deal between industry and the UK Government and is funded by the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC), with a budget of £100m over ten years.  The programme supports the growth of UK businesses looking to capitalise on the huge opportunities offered by the global offshore wind sector. A new tranche of funding from OWIC members has enabled this new programme to be created, forming part of the UK’s green economic recovery following the global Covid-19 health pandemic.

The selected companies will work with offshore wind and business support experts from across the UK, including representatives from 4C Offshore, BVG Associates, Everoze, Lumen Energy & Environment, Opergy, Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, RTC North and Xodus Group. The selected delivery partners will provide bespoke and targeted specialist advice to their paired supply chain companies to help accelerate the UK’s growth in offshore wind.

Martin Whitmarsh, OWGP Board Chair, said “I am delighted to see so many ambitious and forward thinking UK companies engaging in the OWGP’s WEST Pilot programme. It is a strong statement of intent for OWGP, showing that we will support UK supply chain companies to gain market insight and intelligence to accelerate their growth in and into the sector. I look forward to seeing these organisations flourish and create a stable foundation for UK offshore wind supply chain content.”

Andrew Macdonald, OWGP Programme Director, said: “One of the most important roles of OWGP is to help new companies to enter the offshore wind sector. A lack of specific sector knowledge is frequently cited as a barrier to initial entry and global growth. The WEST programme is designed to overcome this by providing access to world-leading experts who can guide and advise companies to enable their growth.”

Halfdan Brustad, OWIC Sponsor for the OWGP, said: “The Offshore Wind Industry Council is committed to ensuring that UK companies benefit from our world-leading sector, and also the growth of offshore wind globally. On behalf of OWIC I am pleased to see such a diverse range of companies selected for the OWGP’s WEST Programme. This activity, like the others OWGP are providing, is vitally important in supporting both existing suppliers to offshore wind, and also supporting suppliers currently serving other industries to seize the opportunities. WEST will help us deliver against the ambitions set out in the Offshore Wind Sector Deal, and contribute to a green industrial future.”