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Successful visit to ORE Catapult Testing Facilities at Blyth: 17th and 18th March 2022

By Julie Taylor: Innovation Manager - ORE Catapult

To reinforce the richness of the Marine-i offer to business and to introduce SMEs to the scale and range of test facilities available through Marine-i partner, ORE Catapult, it was decided to invite five businesses on a fully-funded trip to Blyth, for a detailed tour of the test facilities at the site.  

The visit provided a chance for networking with the Marine-i team; an opportunity to see first-hand the wind and tidal turbine drivetrain test rigs, blade test facility, High Voltage laboratory, materials laboratory and Marine Energy Test Centre; meet with research and test rig staff to gain a better appreciation of the innovation challenges facing the offshore renewables sector; and inspire ideas for product and services development. 

The visiting businesses were:

  1. Hugh Jennings of Altum Green Energy
  2. Chris Wright of Bluefruit
  3. David Raynor of Composite Integration
  4. Bill Law of Inductive Power Projection
  5. Nick Meade of Zcom

Colleagues from the Marine-i project who accompanied the businesses were: Simon Cheeseman and Julie Taylor of ORE Catapult and Alex Whatley from University of Plymouth.

On the first evening we were joined by Steve Wyatt, ORE Catapult’s Research and Innovation Director, Dr Richard Hall of Department for International Trade, and by two colleagues from Falmouth Marine School: Steve Taylor and Simon Coombe. There was a lively exchange of ideas and thoughts around offshore renewables centring on Floating Offshore Wind and Tidal energy.

The following day we gathered for what was a very informative, eye opening and thought provoking tour of the ORE Catapult testing facilities.

We were accompanied throughout our tour by Russel Rafferty and Stephen Thompson from Blyth and were fortunate to get specific expert explanations from David Hoyle (Materials), Robert Fox (Drivetrain), Jason Gaffling and Anna Southall (Blades).  We also made introductions to Mark Forrest (Blades Research) and David Cox (Mechanical Engineering) for two of the businesses.

It was a really informative trip and gave the Marine-i team an opportunity to spend quality time with some of our businesses. 

It also generated some very positive feedback from the group:

David Raynor of Composite Integration Ltd said: “The size and scale of the testing facilities at Blyth were far greater than I had anticipated.”

Nick Meade of Zcom Ltd said: “Thank you for the invitation to Blyth. Everybody without exception was very welcoming and friendly. Great experience. The whole visit was very well organised. The relevant and valuable knowledge passed on from experienced staff and information provided by this networking opportunity was second to none. An extremely useful visit for us at our stage in development at Zcom. Blyth is clearly a world class testing facility that prides itself on integrity and confidentiality, providing truly independent results, as companies develop new products and may require IP’s for commercial security. Inevitably Blyth test facility is clearly making a difference in supporting dynamic growth of the renewable sector.”

Hugh Jennings of Altum Green Energy Ltd said: ”It was brilliant to be shown around the Blyth testing facility; hugely informative and eye-opening to see cutting-edge innovation in action. The trip has given me great confidence that partnering with Marine-i and ORE Catapult will be hugely beneficial to us as an SME, due to the market leading facilities and expertise on site.” 

We are delighted that our businesses found it such a worthwhile trip, and we look forward to working with some of them in the future on their marine innovation projects.

[Photo credit: ORE Catapult]

The photo shows, left to right: David Raynor, Chris Wright, Stephen Thompson, Simon Cheeseman, Julie Taylor, Nick Meade, Steve Taylor, Hugh Jennings, Richard Hall, Alex Whatley, Bill Law, Simon Coombe.