Japan, Scotland Invest in Subsea Technology

October 11, 2019

L- R: Tony Laing of NSRI, David Rennie of Scottish Enterprise and Neil Gordon of Subsea UK. (Photo: Subsea UK)
L- R: Tony Laing of NSRI, David Rennie of Scottish Enterprise and Neil Gordon of Subsea UK. (Photo: Subsea UK)

Scottish and Japanese companies will receive £9 million from a joint fund to work together on innovative subsea technology.

Combined with investment made by the companies themselves, a total of £20.9 million of industrial research and development will go ahead.

External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop, in Japan this week to strengthen trade and investment links, announced the latest round of awards from the joint fund run by Scottish Enterprise and the Nippon Foundation.

A launch in Yokohama, attended by senior executives from the subsea industry, heard how 12 Scottish companies will partner with Japanese firms to complete six projects.

Collaborations involve companies from Aberdeen, Inverness, Edinburgh, Coatbridge and Livingston. They include an £8.3 million project to develop an offshore and subsea Internet Of Things infrastructure, and a £3.3 million venture to build a digital system which monitors floating structures.

SMS Ltd with Mitsubishi Shipbuilding (total project worth £3.3 million)
Working on a digital twin system with other Partners with Strathclyde University and James Fisher Defence to make a digital twin system to monitor floating structures including offshore wind, shipping, platforms etc

Sustainable Marine Energy with IHI (£1 million)
Developing a template anchoring system and robotic installation tooling for deep water floating offshore wind market in Japan. IHI are also developing a turbine system for use in ocean current renewable power.

ECOG / SME / Precision Impulse / Texo / Tritech / Sensor Works and Yokogawa (£8.3 million)
Developing an offshore and subsea Internet Of Things infrastructure with autonomous vehicles, sensors, communications and power systems for offshore and subsea infrastructure including renewables, hydrocarbons and aquaculture.

Bridon Bekaert, Tension Technology International and Toda (£7.5 million)
Developing new mooring systems and ropes to replace chains which are unable to handle the deep waters off Japan.

WFS and Shimadzu (£388,000)
Working on underwater communications for broadband optical systems.

Ecosse IP and JMU (£470,000)
Looking at new installation methods for floating offshore wind using semisubmersibles and a novel ambient lifting system for foundations.

Hyslop said, “I am encouraged by the continued collaboration between Scotland and Japan in marine resource development and subsea technologies.

“The Scottish Government is committed to retaining our position as a global leader in subsea engineering - investing in our innovation infrastructure to grow Scotland's market share and supporting opportunities in other sectors.”

Executive director Mr. Unno from the Nippon Foundation said, “The theme of the second round of the Joint R&D is “Blue Economy”, which includes not only oil and gas but also a wide range of offshore wind and fisheries fields; and we have selected five projects utilizing the strengths of Japanese and Scottish technology.”

“I hope these projects will promote multisectoral collaboration, global partnerships and develop the new ocean development market.’’

The project forms part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which was signed between Scottish Enterprise and the Japanese philanthropic organization, The Nippon Foundation, at SPE Offshore Europe in 2017.

Scottish Enterprise and Nippon Foundation run a joint competitive research and development fund to bring Japanese and Scottish universities and organisations together to develop innovative technology within the sector.

The first round of funding, announced last year, saw £7.15 million go to eight Scottish companies to collaborate on five projects.

This second round of funding of £9 million includes support of £6.2 million from Scottish Enterprise to the 12 Scottish companies.

Neil Gordon, chief executive of Subsea UK, said, “Globally the Blue Economy is forecast to be worth £140 billion by 2035 and Scottish companies who can develop disruptive technology can capitalize on this opportunity. The scale of this opportunity was reflected in the response to the second call which has attracted projects that have applications across the entire underwater industry.

“The increase in funding is in direct response to the success of the first call and the quality of submissions for the second call. Led by Scottish Enterprise, this initiative is a unique opportunity to engage with industry and academia across Scotland and Japan, renowned for their development of innovative technology.”

Tony Laing, NSRI director for market research and acceleration, added, “This international program, has matched industry with the right industry partner to create projects that bring value to Scotland and growth opportunities in the Blue Economy. This approach, which is fully aligned to the country’s industrial strategy and low carbon targets, will accelerate economic growth but also present a wider opportunity for early adoption of the technology, advancing the sectors and the companies involved.”

David Rennie, head of Oil and Gas, Scottish Enterprise said, “It is fantastic to see these projects coming to fruition and we are delighted to work with partners here in Scotland and Japan to support. It is particularly welcome to see the focus on the blue economy agenda. While our experience and focus in subsea has been based around oil and gas, these project awards clearly demonstrate that our subsea sector, one of our key global strengths, has the potential to help deliver technology solutions in a range of sectors beyond oil and gas. These projects will create significant value for the Scottish economy, and we are delighted to support them.”

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