A government fund to encourage small businesses to find new ways of solving challenges in the energy industry has been given a £500,000 boost by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).
Innovate UK’s Energy Game Changer Fund aims to encourage small and medium sized enterprises from other sectors to transfer their expertise to the energy industry.
With new technologies often taking a decade or more to get into the highly regulated and high risk energy market, the fund will pay for technical feasibility studies to stimulate the adoption of so-called 'disruptive technologies' which tackle specific challenges faced by the industry.
With the NDA’s £500,000 boost, the fund now stands at £2 million. The three main themes of the competition include:
Taking inspection to the limit: inspection and clean-up of energy infrastructure in hazardous environments
Dealing with data: collecting, analysing and visualising big data to optimise efficiency and reduce costs
Engaging energy: changing people’s perception of energy and optimising their use of it.
Applicants and technology transfer proposals are being encouraged from small businesses working in sectors such as defence, aerospace, automotive, telecommunications, medical and creative.
Particular expertise is being sought in areas such as inspection, digital, sensors, virtual reality, gaming, robotics, autonomous vehicles and advanced manufacturing.
Melanie Brownridge, head of technology at the NDA, said: “The UK is home to a number of world-leading companies in a wide range of cutting-edge fields such as robotics and computer gaming.
“We believe that game-changing technologies can solve a number of existing problems, either by the development of completely new ideas or through technology transfer from other sectors. Could we, for example, adopt virtual reality techniques from the computer game industry to help us work remotely in hazardous environments?
“We would like to encourage those people who are currently working elsewhere, in industries such as defence, aerospace, automotive and telecommunications, to grasp this opportunity to consider how their techniques can be applied to our important field of work.”
The Energy Game Changer Fund will open on 28 March 2016. The funding will be allocated through a competitive process, with SMEs encouraged to submit either stand-alone project ideas or collaborative partnerships with companies of any size and sector.
Projects are expected to last for six to twelve months and range in size from £25,000 to £100,000.
A brokering event to provide prospective applicants with the opportunity to network with potential partners and energy sector experts will be held in Penrith, Cumbria, on 2 March. For more information, click here.