Ireland’s marine innovators win EU H2020 funding

Ireland’s marine innovators win EU H2020 funding A number of Irish marine businesses have been successful in winning EU research funding to develop disruptive technologies that will help achieve energy and food security, key societal challenges in the EU's research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 (H2020).

Recent research awards through the H2020 SME Instrument include Kerry based Brandon Products Ltd. for a blue biotechnology solution for bio oil production; Connemara based EireComposites for a project to develop develop smart, efficient tidal-turbine blades and offshore wind-turbine blade structures at an affordable cost; and Dare Technology based at the IMERC cluster in Cork.

OpenHydro Group Ltd will receive EU funding of € 2.9m through the Fast Track to Innovation Scheme run under the H2020 programme. OpenHydro Group Ltd is leading a group of European researchers in a project called OCTTIC (Open-Centre Tidal Turbine Industrial Capability). Their project looks at wave energy and aims to find ways to make it as cheap as wind energy so that it is more practical to use in the electricity grid. (The project being led from Dublin involves partners from Belgium, United Kingdom and the Netherlands.)

The Fast Track to Innovations Scheme is a bottom up measure promoting innovation activities at the close-to-the-market stage. It supports mature innovative concepts that have already been tested. Supported activities include systems validation in real working conditions, testing, piloting, validation of business models and standard setting and pre-normative research.

EireComposites in partnership with EnerOcean has secured €2.7m funding under the Fast Track to Innovation Scheme for their SEAMETEC project. Their project aims to increase the availability of secure, low-cost, low-carbon electricity from ocean and offshore energy. These objectives will be achieved by using a novel, but commercially proven, patented, composites manufacturing process and by adding sensor technology that reduces maintenance costs and improves reliability.

The project aims to play an important role in creating a new European industry, the production of tidal stream turbines, while also giving Europe a competitive advantage in offshore wind. Offshore wind is an established multi-billion euro market, while tidal stream energy is an emerging market that will create up to 120GW of electricity and a €400bn industry. The project will contribute to the Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 'Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy'.

Brandon Products Ltd are collaborating with UK based SME Glenside on the Sea-More-Yield project, which will receive funding of €0.9m under the H2020 SME Instrument. The project will run from December 2016 to November 2018 and aims to commercialise a disruptive blue biotechnology solution, using seaweed to address a bio-oil crop productivity challenge.

Dare Technology, based at the IMERC cluster in Cork was recently awarded a Phase 1 award to develop innovative renewable technology on ships. Dare Technology's first product is a marine grade, portable wind turbine for commercial marine vessels (Hi-GEN). The Hi-GEN will provide renewable power for the ships systems and reduce the reliance on diesel powered generators, thereby reducing operating costs and emissions in the fishing and shipping industry.

SonarSim Ltd in Limerick also received phase 1 funding under the H2020 SME Instrument for the SINANN project to to develop solutions to increase efficiency in coastal zone seabed survey operations by 10-15%.

Dr Heffernan, CEO Marine Institute said, "The success of these companies in winning EU funding for innovative marine projects shows the growth of Ireland's research capacity, driven by a national focus through Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth - Ireland's integrated marine plan, and progress made during the implementation of Ireland's previous marine research and innovation strategy, Sea Change 2007-2013. These Irish businesses are developing new technology that has the potential to be a game changer for how we source and harness our energy."