Companies looking for a break into the offshore wind industry can apply to an award-winning technology acceleration programme based in the East of England for the first time.
Launch Academy East of England – run by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult – is open until 28 April for expressions of interest.
Applications are invited from companies in Norfolk and Suffolk which offer pioneering products and services for the offshore renewable energy sector.
Funding has been provided by ORE Catapult, offshore wind developer RWE, Norfolk County Council, Essex County Council, and Suffolk County Council, with pro bono support provided by Marks & Clerk, Birketts, and Lovewell & Blake.
Stephen Wyatt, of ORE Catapult, said: “It is fantastic to be launching a Launch Academy programme in the East of England for the first time – a region where offshore renewable energy has really taken off and continues to grow.
“Launch Academy is the only technology accelerator dedicated to offshore wind early-stage companies that allows us to provide highly focused support for leading innovators in the UK supply chain.
“I’m delighted that RWE have joined as industry sponsors who will provide great value to all the companies in the programme, and for the support of the local councils as we seek to grow local companies.”
Danielle Lane, Director of Offshore Development UK and Ireland at RWE, said: “East of England is a key region for RWE and as such we are delighted to support this first ORE Catapult Launch Academy for Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk.
“With interests in four local operational offshore wind projects and two in the development pipeline, RWE is keen to play a role in ensuring local companies and suppliers have the opportunity to bring forward innovative solutions, technologies and concepts that could potentially benefit the wider offshore wind sector.”
Nine companies will be chosen for the seven-month programme that will include bespoke support modules, delivered by ORE Catapult and expert partners. These include legal, marketing, export, accountancy, intellectual property (IP), investor readiness, technology assessment, and business case reviews – worth around £25,000 per company. At the end of the programme, companies will also have the chance to pitch to ORE Catapult’s network of private investors.
Norfolk county councillor Fabian Eagle added: “I’d urge small businesses to step forward and take advantage of this free support which is designed to launch some of our newest businesses onto a strong path to growth. This is an exciting opportunity to help promote a vibrant and sustainable economy, by supporting the right jobs, skills and training for local people. Our investment in this project builds on the work we’re doing to enable Norfolk’s transition to net zero, secure green jobs for the future, and support offshore wind supply chain development in Norfolk.”
Suffolk county councillor Richard Smith MVO said: “We are very pleased to support ORE Catapult to bring the prestigious Launch Academy opportunity to businesses in Suffolk. A first for the region, Launch Academy East of England not only supports the government’s clean energy growth ambitions, but will help develop the capacity of Suffolk businesses to win offshore wind contracts in the UK and in overseas export markets, creating jobs for the communities of Suffolk.”
Launch Academy East of England will tap into the large amount of offshore renewables activity in the area, with the hope of enhancing the regional supply chain, growing local companies, boosting local content, and increasing engagement in innovation.
The regional programme will run from June to December 2023 and has been developed following the success of previous national and regional cohorts that have supported companies to raise over £15 million of investment since 2019.