A global energy giant investing in the North East says the region is becoming a world-leading green innovation hub.

Ørsted, the global leader in offshore wind energy, has today launched its UK and Ireland Innovation Hub to inspire fresh solutions in the fight against climate change. Backed by an initial £500,000 investment, the hub will tackle challenges including how to enhance the contribution of home-grown suppliers in meeting green energy targets, supporting domestic skills development and job creation, integrating substantial amounts of new renewables into our electricity grid and how to best protect and enhance the environment.

The Innovation Hub will provide a front door for UK&IE innovators wanting to work with Ørsted and support the best that these innovation ecosystems have to offer. It will form part of a growing network of Ørsted Innovation Hubs, building on the success of those set up in the US and the Netherlands.

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David Bould, Head of UK&IE Ventures & Open Innovation, said the North of the UK is fast becoming a world leading green innovation hub.

He put that down to three key factors:

  • Global companies working to accelerate the pace of the UK’s green transition who are recognising the potential of the sustainable innovation ecosystems emerging in the North
  • Local talent and industries
  • The strength of its universities and established energy businesses.

He said: “There are many fantastic start-ups and researchers in the UK and Ireland with important pieces of the jigsaw to create a world that runs entirely on green energy. They all have different parts of the solution and Ørsted has the connections, the kit and the access to funding to help them make their innovations a reality. We’re expecting game-changing discoveries to come out of this.”

Examples of the innovative start-ups and early-stage companies with whom Ørsted will be working include

  • Spoor – a Norwegian technologically advanced start-up which has built a specially designed artificial intelligence system to monitor and track birdlife around offshore windfarms.
  • Eleven-I – a start-up company based in Yorkshire that has developed special technology to detect damage to wind turbine blades, reducing disruption to energy supplies meaning more competitive electricity prices.
  • Highview Power – a UK-based company that has developed a liquid air energy storage technology, helping unleash the full potential of renewable energy by enabling it to be stored and used on-demand.

The Northern Echo: The Scottish Association for Marine Science North Sea 3D projectThe Scottish Association for Marine Science North Sea 3D project (Image: Orsted)

  • The Innovation Hub will also support academic research, helping combine Ørsted’s existing involvement with universities and research organisations such as Oxford University. Examples of the projects and institutions it is investing in include:
  • Durham University’s Energy Institute (DEI) – which will receive funding from Ørsted for a green energy systems professorship, scholarships for energy master’s students and a PhD research pot to support research into green energy solutions.
  • The Scottish Association for Marine Science – whose North Sea 3D project is supporting marine biodiversity efforts by using artificial intelligence and 3D imaging to chart the growth of marine life on wind farms across the entire North Sea.
  • PREDICT – a project led by the University of Aberdeen and the Environmental Research Institute, as part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, which investigates fish migration patterns and provides a vision for next-generation monitoring techniques.
  • A New Partnership in Offshore Wind – between the universities of Durham, Sheffield, and Hull, together with energy company Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy UK, which has developed ways to make wind turbine generators more efficient, reliable, lighter and cheaper. This included 20 projects and a total budget of £7.64m


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Bill Slatter, CEO, Eleven-i said: “Buy-in from companies such as Ørsted (which is a major developer, and long-term owner & operator) is incredibly important to start-ups such as Eleven-i. Not only do they help inform product development but having the world's largest offshore wind developer showing interest in the systems will also show others that such technologies are necessary, making industry wide adoption more likely.”

Dr Arwyn Thomas of Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy UK, Principal Investigator for A New Partnership in Offshore Wind, said: “This unique partnership has clearly demonstrated how collaboration and innovation can really move the industry forward together, by making renewable technologies much more efficient and affordable.”