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Artemis Technologies led project moves to next stage in multi-million pounds funding bid

by Simon Cunningham 22 Mar 04:52 PDT
An impression of how the Autonomous Sailing Vessel developed by Artemis Technologies will appear © Artemis Technologies

A Belfast-based bid led by Artemis Technologies has received funding from a major seedcorn programme that could see tens of millions of pounds pumped into its plans to decarbonise maritime transportation.

The project which was launched in Belfast last October will also return commercial shipbuilding to the city. It is the only bid from Northern Ireland to be selected for the next stage of the UK Research and Innovation's Strength in Places Fund.

It has received early-stage funding to produce a full bid. Successful projects will be awarded between £10m and £50m.

The consortium behind the bid aims to fast track the prototyping of a new class of vessels and sub-systems, including a wind/electric hybrid, named the Autonomous Sailing Vessel (ASV).

The ASV will be a zero-emissions 45m long ocean-going high-performance commercial carbon composite wind/electric catamaran, that will offer unlimited range.

Artemis Technologies is a spin-off from America's Cup team Artemis Racing.

The firm's Chief Executive, double Olympic gold medalist Iain Percy OBE, said:

"This early-stage funding is a major endorsement of our plans to make Belfast the advanced maritime manufacturing capital of the world.

"The city is already home to some of the most advanced aerospace and composite engineering talent available anywhere on the planet and we want to harness that potential by combining it with Belfast's rich maritime history and our own expertise in high-speed yacht design.

"We strongly believe this project will be an economic game-changer for Northern Ireland by placing the region at the very heart of the revolution of the maritime sector."

The bid, named 'Decarbonisation of Maritime Transportation - a Return to Commercial Sailing', is one of 24 ambitious projects to receive early-stage funding to develop full-stage proposals.

The ASV will be one of a series of commercial maritime products developed by Artemis Technologies in Belfast using the wind and innovative energy recovery systems.

Initial discussions with potential customers have indicated a range of applications, from a city-city passenger ferry, to a defence reconnaissance vessel.

Each of the shortlisted projects from the first wave of the fund has been awarded up to £50,000 in early-stage funding, which will allow applicants to develop full-stage bids.

Teams behind these projects will then submit these bids to UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) in late 2019, with four to eight of the strongest set to receive between £10m and £50m each to carry out projects designed to drive substantial economic growth.

The Strength in Places Fund is a cross-council UKRI programme in partnership with the higher education funding bodies of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and the Office for Students.

Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation, Professor Sir Mark Walport, said:

"Our clear vision is to ensure we benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas. Significant support through the Strength in Places Fund will further catalyse economic potential across the country by bringing researchers, industry and regional leadership together to drive sustained growth through world-class research and innovation."

The 24 projects span the UK, with all nations and regions of the country represented.

Strength in Places panel chair, Dame Kate Barker, said:

"I was delighted to be invited by UK Research and Innovation to chair the SIPF independent expert panel. After considering a large number of Expressions of Interest from around the country, the panel were pleased to recommend a strong set of bids for funding. These awards demonstrate significant expertise across a wide range of sectors, and the potential for research and innovation partnerships to contribute substantially to increased growth and productivity in areas of local economic activity."

UKRI lead on the Strength in Places Fund, David Sweeney, said:

"There is world-class research and development, and high-quality innovation right across the UK, from excellent research in university departments and public research organisations to initiatives from forward-looking businesses.

"UK Research and Innovation's Strength in Places Fund will capitalise on these strengths and foster the local ecosystems that can support innovation and sustained growth and will strengthen collaboration between industry and our world-class research base.

"I am delighted with the range of seedcorn bids funded across the UK in the first wave."

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