How Cornwall is riding the marine tech wave

9th November, 2018

When it comes to all things marine; from harnessing its energy, leading the fight against the global plastic scourge strangling our oceans to fishing, marine science and robot boats, Cornwall is definitely a world leader.

Falmouth Docks

The Duchy’s strong maritime heritage, new technologies, plenty of can-do attitude and engineering talents, are helping the region’s marine technology businesses thrive. Matt Hodson, Marine Hub Operations Director, said the marine tech industry is vast. There are already over 800 marine companies identifying as working in the sector in Cornwall. It encompasses everything from hydrographic engineers to offshore wind farm designers & maintenance experts, through to ship building and repair at Pendennis Superyachts, and A&P, based at Falmouth Docks, the inventors of autonomous robot boats.

“Cornwall’s marine sector is thriving and has always been,” he said. “Cornwall has a strong heritage going back hundreds of years governed by our coast line and industrial past.”

“It goes back to the days when our ports and harbours grew as we exported our goods such as China clay and imported coal to keep it all going. Geographically, Cornwall is strategically placed. We are extremely well located. We are right in the middle at the confluence of shipping lanes going up the Channel, coming from North America, Africa and down the Irish Sea. That’s why ports like Falmouth exist.”  Mr Hodson believes Cornwall’s heritage, as well as the perfect work-life balance it offers, all combine to make it a thriving place for innovation and creativity.

“People choose to be in Cornwall. Whether their born here or move here, if you live here you have to make it work. It’s always been like that. We have a can-do-attitude that shines through the entire workforce. For entrepreneurs that’s a real reason to develop a business here.”

pentire beach waves

Rapid Innovation Grants help marine tech firms explore new markets

Ocean Hydraulics in Redruth is the first business to receive grant funding through the newly launched Rapid Innovation Grant scheme from Marine-i. Freelance engineer Mike Curnow has traded as Ocean Hydraulics since 2003. He has engineered a wide number of innovative products for the offshore sub-seabed site investigation and construction industries, both in the UK and overseas.

Mike has now identified an opportunity in the global offshore renewables market – a new way of anchoring sea bed foundation piles – which has received grant funding via the Rapid Innovation Grants scheme. He believes the alternative drilling method is expected to bring benefits in safety and stability as well as be more cost-effective to implement. In order to take his project to the next level, Mike needed to produce an animated video to present the concept.

Mike said: “The £2,000 Rapid Innovation Grant from the Marine Challenge Fund was a significant contribution towards the costs and has allowed me to kickstart the project. The animation we produced has enabled me to sell the concept and get development underway.”

As a result, Ocean Hydraulics is now working with Armada Engineering and a five-man design team is drawing up detailed designs for the product. Mike added: “We now expect to have a working prototype ready to go to sea within a year and full commercialisation within two years. The support has been invaluable in helping us accelerate our innovation. I would urge other marine businesses to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity.”

lighthouse stormy sea

Cornwall’s Future Growth Potential

The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Marine Renewables Roadmap 2015-2025 was published in 2015 to provide a direction for the public-sector in targeting investment support that could catalyse the evolution of a successful marine renewable energy sector in Cornwall. In its paper: ‘Towards 2030. Welcome to the Future’ on offshore renewables and marine technology in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, it said: “The majority of businesses are focused on their own, individual commercial goals and do not understand the broader strategy for the sector or how they can play an important part in helping to develop the local marine industry. There are also barriers such as limited time and a degree of cynicism about the public sector.”

It added: “Our ambition is that by 2030, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly will be at the forefront of world markets in marine offshore renewables and marine tech, with a vibrant and growing private sector. This world leading private sector will in turn be supported by a world leading public sector, the two working together in a highly productive collaboration with a deeply rooted culture that fosters innovation. The sector will create high value jobs bringing prosperity to the local economy, contribute to the UK’s energy security and carbon reduction goals and export technologies and services worldwide, whilst also directly contributing to Cornwall’s recently released energy vision for 2030.”

Find out more about what Cornwall can offer your marine business here.

To read the full, original article visit Cornwall Live.

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