A new programme has been launched to supercharge businesses that are helping decarbonise the ports and maritime industry in the North East.

The 2050 Maritime Innovation Hub, a collaborative business catalyst designed to advance the logistics industry has set up Venture Connect, a regional equity investment programme focused exclusively on nurturing businesses that are developing low carbon, cleantech solutions for the ports and maritime industry.

The Hub is based at the Port of Tyne and collaborators include Connected Places Catapult, Barclays, North Star Ventures, Gresham House, Innovation Super Network, Port of Tyne and many other organisations. The aim of Venture Connect is to facilitate ‘investment readiness’ among a cohort of innovative businesses that will help to propel the ports and maritime industry towards full decarbonisation by 2050.

Venture Connect has launched with eight participating cleantech businesses, each of whom was selected from a pool of applicants to participate in a four-month accelerator programme with mentoring. The scheme will provide participants with structured leadership, operational and business development support, delivered by high profile mentors, each offering a specific area of expertise.

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The aim of Venture Connect is to deliver ‘scale up ready’ enterprises at the end of the programme, with each business able to demonstrate ‘invest-ability’ and attract the requisite capital to achieve its strategic growth plans. During the programme, each participating business will receive a bespoke, tailored experience to help them attract the best possible responsible investors, once they are ready to scale up.

Venture Connect’s Mentors have been selected from over 25 regional and national organisations and maritime support organisations within the 2050 Innovation Hub ecosystem. These include experts from the Innovation Super Network, Barclays, plus members of the Port of Tyne’s Board and Leadership Team.

The Port of Tyne will also offer its clean energy and 5G testbeds for new cleantech solutions, with the aim of accelerating product readiness and giving developers the chance to rigorously test solutions within a live port environment.

Dr Jo North, Technology and Transformation Director says, “We are very excited to have launched with our first cohort. The maritime industry is changing exceptionally quickly and there is an urgent need for our unique decarbonisation challenges to be solved.”

The first Venture Connect cohort of businesses includes:

  • H2CHP, a Durham University spin off founded by Stephen Hampson, has developed 5 prototypes of a fuel flexible generator providing shore to ship power in ports. This allows vessels to switch off auxiliary engines when docked, reducing CO2 emissions equivalent to 1.2 million diesel cars in the UK. H2CHP has successfully demonstrated its products using petrol and hydrogen and the company will be seeking investment of £500,000 after completing the Venture Connect programme.
  • CrowdHouse Energy, a design firm providing innovative solutions for renewable energy generation that could be adopted by the maritime sector. The company was founded in 2019 by family members and has developed a strong track record delivering £100m plus projects for renewable energy clients in the public and commercial sectors. CrowdHouse Energy was selected for Venture Connect because of the company’s vision to power positive change in the North East and make the UK a world leader in megawatt-scale onsite renewable energy generation.

Julia Prescot, Deputy Chair at the Port of Tyne says, “Venture Connect completely aligns with the Port’s vision to contribute to sustainable maritime development and expedite economic growth across the North East of England.

“There is a huge opportunity for cleantech businesses to thrive in the North East and we believe this programme will play a significant part in helping to transform not only the maritime sector, but also the UK and the region’s economic prospects.”

Stephen Hampson, founder of H2CHP says, "We eagerly anticipate leveraging this unique opportunity to advance our green maritime innovations with the support of expert coaching, valuable mentorship, and access to a network of forward-thinking investors."