The Offshore Wind Innovation Hub (OWIH) exists to drive a more coordinated approach to innovation and new technology development in the offshore wind industry. This includes ensuring that UK companies are positioned to develop technology solutions that are aligned to global offshore wind innovation priorities. Companies often lack the awareness or resource to apply for relevant public research and development (R&D) funding competitions to develop their technologies. They also sometimes struggle to find collaborators or end users to demonstrate their technology. The OWIH will routinely deliver an innovation process that convenes industry to respond to funding calls more effectively, achieving a focused and market driven approach to technology development and UK value creation. This article explains the process we apply and how it has worked so far this year.
The innovation process
The innovation process we use is split into five phases. After a funding competition is announced, the process begins. Step one involves OWIH undertaking a desktop review of the OWIH innovation priorities and matching these to the upcoming funding competition. We then focus on the priorities that fit the competition scope and search R&D databases for relevant technology concepts and companies of interest, providing us a list of project opportunities. Step two involves cross referencing our findings with business development leads in the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) ORE Catapult and at the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) to validate the project concepts uncovered and to highlight any further opportunities. Once we have a pre-screened list of promising project concepts, we then reach out to the relevant companies and invite them to networking events associated with the funding competition or for 1-2-1 meetings. In step four, we attend the networking events and host offshore wind specific workshops designed to introduce members of different industries and to broker new commercial partnerships. Following this in step 5, we provide support to companies that need it during the application writing phase. They may want further help finding partners and end users, access to technical and market data or further advice about the funding competition.
Targeted R&D project brokering – process
Results so far in 2017
The OWIH implemented its innovation process during the run up to the close of the Innovate UK Infrastructure Systems Round 2 competition and it really proved the value of the process. A total of 94 concepts were identified that matched the competition scope in step one and two, including technology from outside the offshore wind industry. A further 28 concepts were identified in complementary areas such as energy storage. Of the consortia we convened and engaged with (step three), 14 confirmed their intent to apply to the competition and a further 19 were interested. Many of these and more applied to the funding competition and we currently await the competition results.
Feedback received from companies indicates that the process we employed was helpful, often citing that without our efforts, they would not even have known about the funding or the market opportunity. Companies also found the offshore wind workshop helpful in developing their project concepts further and in generating new ideas for technology solutions.