Launch of £15million R&D Funding Call for Underwater Innovation

Industry body Subsea UK in partnership with Scottish Enterprise has announced that it has opened an R&D funding call for innovation projects to drive forward research and development projects between Scotland and Japan that will help solve the industry’s most complex technological challenges.

The project forms part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was signed between Scottish Enterprise and Japanese philanthropic organisation, The Nippon Foundation at SPE Offshore Europe in September.

The strategic agreement aims to help both countries capitalise on opportunities in the growing subsea sector. The two parties will provide equal funding, totalling approximately £15million to support joint projects between the two countries that maximise the use and development of digital technologies and challenge conventional industry methods and techniques.

Subsea UK, in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, with support from NSRI and ITF will coordinate and pioneer a programme of research and development activities to accelerate the introduction and adoption of new and disruptive technologies.

The joint projects will address challenges identified by industry, capitalising on Scotland’s world renowned subsea engineering expertise to develop solutions that will push the boundaries and increase each country’s respective share of the sector – which is worth approximately £50 billion annually.

Organisations are being asked to step forward for support by identifying how their ideas, products and services meet the needs of the evolving subsea sector. Applications are being sought under the following themes:

  • Subsea digital oilfield technologies (real-time underwater communication, inspection, monitoring and control, subsea sensors, robotics and artificial intelligence)
  • Subsea oil and gas innovation (well productivity and intervention, well design, low-cost drilling, decommissioning, subsea factory, remote monetisation and challenging field development)

Companies can submit an expression of interest via the Subsea UK website up until March 2018 with full proposal applications due by June 2018.

The extensive collaboration work with Japan will make a strong contribution to the delivery of the Subsea Engineering Action Plan, launched by Scottish Enterprise earlier this year, with the aim capturing an even bigger slice of the £50billion global subsea market by Scottish companies.

Neil Gordon, chief executive of Subsea UK commented: “Scotland already accounts for 14% of the global subsea market, with approximately 370 companies generating an estimated annual turnover of £7.5 billion. Our experience and reputation means we are ideally positioned to work with Scottish Enterprise and The Nippon Foundation supporting their ambitions for the sector.

“We have worked closely with Scottish Enterprise over the past three years to help nurture the relationship and build trust between Japan and Scotland. This has been achieved by supporting Scottish Enterprise and its international arm SDI on trade missions to Japan which included numerous high-profile meetings and presentations with key Japanese organisations including the Nippon Foundation.

“We are very much looking forward to strengthening these ties, working with the sector’s leading organisations to tackle the technological challenges to the benefit of the whole industry.”

ITF will provide additional expertise and specialist knowledge to support the technical management of the call process. As the industry expert in this area, ITF has many years of experience in conducting technology R&D calls for the oil and gas industry and has put in place a support mechanism with Subsea UK to ensure the learning and knowledge from the organisation can be brought to each project.

David Rennie, head of oil and gas at Scottish Enterprise, added: “We have worked closely with Subsea UK and NSRI over the past three years to pull this initiative together and it’s extremely encouraging to finally see our efforts come to fruition. This is a major deal that will see Scotland and Japan work collaboratively to pioneer the technology needed to overcome even the most complex of challenges faced by the subsea industry, now and for decades to come.”

A series of lunch and learn workshops will be arranged and hosted at Subsea UK offices over the next few months to assist companies with the application process. Further information can be found on the Subsea UK website.

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