Follow-on Innovation Vouchers from the SFC – UPDATE

The SFC have now announced a further call specifically targeted at partnerships who have already used an Innovation Voucher to start a project, and want to continue development of and idea, service or product.

The Follow-on Voucher scheme is intended to encourage existing partnerships that have previously collaborated and jointly received funding under the SFC Innovation Voucher awards scheme or through a SEEKIT Feasibility study or through the Highlands and Islands Enterprise Business Innovation Grant (BIG) awards.

Finding of between £5,000-£20,000 is available for a follow-on voucher award (for an individual project) and the level of grant requested must be matched in cash by the company. So for a project with a total cost of £40,000, £20,000 will be contributed in cash by the company and £20,000 from the funders.

The deadline for new applications is Friday 18th May 2012. Projects need to have commenced by 30th June 2012 and can complete up to 30th October 2012.

Further information can be found on the INTERFACE WEBSITE, or speak to Laura Robertson at Interface, , tel 0131 650 9048 or for UHI staff seeking advice speak to Joe Irvine, Head of Knowledge Exchange for UHI

There is around £250,000 in the budget left to be committed for both Follow-on and Standard Innovation Vouchers so get those applications prepared and submitted!

WATERS 2 funding round opens

The second round of the WATERS (Wave and Tidal Energy: Research, Development and Demonstration Support) fund opened this week with a further £6 million of funding available for wave and tidal technology development. The primary focus of the WATERS 2 fund is to support the construction and deployment of wave and tidal stream energy prototypes in Scottish waters, thus promoting research and development activities in Scotland, and reducing the cost to developers. WATERS 2 is a collaborative venture between Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, with funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

In the previous round of WATERS Aquamarine Power received £3.15m for the development of their Oyster 800 device, currently being tested at the Billia Croo wave test site of EMEC (and as reported in a previous post to be extended to grid production site).

Companies based in Scotland and Scottish subsidiaries of overseas companies are invited to submit project proposals that will advance low-cost-of-energy wave and tidal devices. Priority will be given to applications that support viable projects enabling full-scale proving of devices that have already been tested at part-scale, but smaller demonstration projects will also be considered.


News from EMEC

Consent for commercial wave power array

14/02/2012 – Scotland’s first near shore commercial wave power array, which will power more than 1,000 homes, has been approved by Energy Minister Fergus Ewing.

Two new Aquamarine Power Oyster wave energy converters will be added to an existing device at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), Orkney, to allow operators, Aquamarine Power, to test the devices as an array. Each of the machines has a capacity of 800 Kilowatts, bringing the total capacity of the array to 2.4MW.

Although the machines are demonstrators, the array will be the first near shore wave array in Scotland to be connected to the National Grid, and are expected to supply enough electricity to power more than 1,000 homes.


MaRINET offers funding for wave and tidal testing at EMEC

16 February 2012 – The marine research organisation MaRINET opens funding call for non UK-based wave and tidal energy power companies, SMEs and research groups for use at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, UK. The MaRINET wave and tidal testing funding scheme runs until March 2015, and further calls for access will be made during that time.

Matthew Finn, research and project coordinator at EMEC, says: “The funding scheme operated by MaRINET offers technology developers an opportunity to deploy their devices at facilities where they may not otherwise be able to secure test time. EMEC is a partner in the MaRINET initiative, a marine renewable energy infrastructure network funded by the European Commission (EC).


TSB announce new renewables innovation centre in Glasgow

The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) has today announced that the UK-wide consortium bid from Carbon Trust, National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) and Ocean Energy Innovation has been selected to play a pivotal role in setting up the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult. The new Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult will have it’s headquarters in Glasgow – with the operational centre in Northumberland close to the National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec). The location in Glasgow will be alongside a number of organisations with complementary interests in the International Technology and Renewable Energy Zone (ITREZ). ITREZ already incorporates Strathclyde University’s £89 million Technology Innovation Centre and has secured industry partners including Scottish and Southern Energy, ScottishPower and the Weir Group.

The new Catapult will focus on technologies applicable to offshore wind, tidal and wave power. It will also build strong links with centres of excellence, such as the European Marine Energy Centre and Wave Hub.

The Catapult, expected to open for business in the summer of 2012, will bring together knowledge, expertise and state of the art facilities to help UK businesses innovate and find new ways to capture and use the power from offshore renewable energy sourcesand may also advise the UK government on its renewable energy policies.


Speeding up small scale anaerobic digestion

February 2012: New project to speed up the development and proving of small scale anaerobic digestion technologies.

Anaerobic digestion has been cited by the government as a way of reducing carbon emission, providing energy security and generating green jobs. It is a vital tool in achieving a low carbon future, and feasibility studies confirm the market demand and acceptance of anaerobic digestion (AD) technology. The potential of this technology has only been within reach of large, profitable organisations, but a new project aimed at bringing cutting-edge AD technologies to rural and smaller scale businesses is being launched to combat this.

The Small Scale Anaerobic Digestion Technology (SSAD-TECH) platform provides underpinning process technology for the development of a series of commercial products for the local treatment of organic waste to produce energy (either as biogas, heat or electricity) and digestate, which can be considered as a non-fossil fuel derived fertiliser.

A five-strong consortium is led by The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) and comprises CNG Services Ltd, Lyvennet Renewable Energy, Wardell Armstrong LLP and Field Science Limited. With grant funding from the government-backed Technology Strategy Board, the project works with a total budget of £880,000 and will run over two years. A part of the government’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult, CPI is home to existing anaerobic digestion development facilities and is ideally placed to coordinate, direct and deliver another successful project.

The innovative aspects of the SSAD-TECH system include:

    The relatively small size (throughputs between 2500 and 5000 tonnes per annum)
    Small footprint, enabling stand alone integration into existing sites and facilities
    Modular build configuration, designed to meet the needs of the agricultural and food manufacturing sectors
    Low capital cost (£350-500,000)
    Short payback period (3-6 years)
    Commercially viable plant at a small scale, 60-150kWe
    Next generation digester technology, optimized for digester stability and performance efficiency.

FULL DETAILS FROM CPI WEBSITE (with further links)

ETP call for proposals for Doctoral Studentship programme

The Energy technology Partnership (ETP) have announced they are able to offer up to 20 studentships in 2012, specifically related to the areas of:

• Wind energy;
• Marine energy;
• Bio-energy;
• Solar energy;
• Energy conversion and storage;
• Energy materials;
• Grid and networks;
• Energy utilisation in buildings;
• Carbon Capture and Storage.

Download GUIDANCE NOTES to learn more about the programme, deadline for submission and application requirements.

More details at ETP WEBSITE.

TSB competition updates

TSB competitions page

Fuel cells and hydrogen: whole system integration
The Technology Strategy Board is to invest up to £7.5m in collaborative research and development projects involving fuel cells and hydrogen energy systems. They aim to accelerate the commercialisation of these products by linking them with other technologies to form complete low-carbon solutions.

One of the challenges facing fuel-cell and hydrogen technologies is to move from development to providing practical low-carbon solutions in combination with other energy and transport products. The aim of this competition is to encourage UK businesses developing fuel cells and hydrogen systems to work with partners to overcome the system integration challenges, to design complete solutions that can be easily used by customers and to gain an insight into the use of whole systems in realistic scenarios.

This is a two-stage open competition. Proposals must be collaborative and business-led and must clearly present the benefits to UK businesses. Successful projects will generally attract up to 50% public funding and we expect the total cost of each project to be £3m-5m.

Open date: 09 January 2012
Registration close date: 15 February 2012
Close date: 22 February 2012

Full details at TSB website
Download competition brief

Optimisation of anaerobic digestion
WRAP has a specific focus on the development and growth of a safe and sustainable AD industry in the UK and is working to deliver specific actions from Defra’s AD Strategy and Action Plan.
The aims for this competition are to:

    Facilitate technology transfer from other industries that may have solved similar challenges to those currently facing the AD sector
    Demonstrate the most effective proposals
    Disseminate advice, data and best practice guidance to the sector to enable it to reap the benefits of the demonstration projects
    Biogas – cheaper technologies for gas use, better gas storage options and a reduction in methane losses (covering both existing gas use options such as CHP and new technologies such as fuel cells or liquefaction)
    Digestate – nutrient extraction and improving quality through technology or process optimisation, efficiencies in separation and application processes
    Better uses of heat, inline quality monitoring and uses for CO2

Some key areas have been identified by the sector as requiring a specific focus: Pre-processing (ie reception and pre-treatment of feedstocks of all types); Inline or instant feedstock testing for contaminants, biogas yields, nutrient levels etc; Pre-treatment of feedstocks to improve digester operation, gas yields, digestate quality and/or manageability; Processing – improving efficiencies and reactor performance, inline monitoring of reactor performance and health, optimisation of digestion biology.

Open date: 09 November 2011
Close date: 21 December 2011

Full details at:
Download competition brief

SFC announce expansion of Innovation Voucher scheme

Good news on the funding front…..

The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) has today announced the expansion of the Innovation Voucher scheme – over the last three years this scheme as granted more than £1 million to 230 projects supporting small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

SFC announces it is committed to invest £2.2 million into the Voucher Scheme and £1.2 million into Interface over the next three years. This includes European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funding of £800,000.

Full press release from SFC website (pdf)

New ERC grants taking projects from research table to market.

The first round of European Research Council (ERC) ‘top up’ grants worth up to EUR 150,000 each have been awarded to 30 researchers across Europe. As part of the ERC’s new ‘Proof of Concept’ funding initiative, these grants are being awarded to researchers who already hold ERC grants, in order to help them transform their ideas into marketable innovative solutions.

Following a call for proposals in June that received a total of 78 applications, the best 30 were selected to receive the additional support that will help them tackle the often costly hurdles of intellectual property rights, technical validation, market research and investigating commercial and business opportunities. The idea is to help researchers package their idea and demonstrate its commercial potential so that it will appeal to potential investors. Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, hopes these grants will speed up the rate of research outcomes reaching the marketplace.

ERC President Professor Helga Nowotny comments on the Proof of Concept scheme: ‘The “proof-of-concept” scheme has been set up to provide a bridge for ideas emerging from frontier research that might be attractive for markets. Innovation takes place in companies. We offer to ERC grantees the possibility to probe and proof the innovative potential of their ideas and we trust that many of them will find their way to be transformed into productive outcomes.’ The ERC acts as a complementary body and exists alongside national research funding agencies as well as being a flagship component of the ‘Ideas Programme’ of the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

A second call for applications under the Proof of Concept programme closes on 8 November 2011….details at European Research Council website.

Applications on EC participant portal

SFC Innovation Vouchers update

Following a successful application for European Structural Funds, there have been some changes to the scheme and its documentation – the revised forms (application and final report) and guidelines which are available for download below:

Revised copy of the Guidance Notes (pdf)

Revised copy of the Application Form (pdf)

How to Apply: If you are applying on behalf of a UHI project please contact Joe Irvine, UHI Head of Knowledge Transfer, in the first instance if you would like further information on use of the vouchers.

Eligibility reminder:

All small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in Scotland (ie. those with a registration commencing SC) are eligible to partner with a HEI under the scheme. SME are organisations that are registered companies, employ between 1- 250 employees and have an annual turnover of less than £35 million.

The scheme is aimed at building relationships between SMEs (Small to Medium sized Enterprises) and HEIs (Higher Education Institutes) in Scotland. The proposed collaborative project should lead to new products, services and processes that will benefit the business, the institution and the Scottish economy.

The awards are specifically intended to encourage new partnerships that have not previously collaborated or jointly received funding from any source previously so as to build links between Scotland’s Higher Education Institutes and small businesses. In particular the vouchers should encourage a longer, sustained relationship between companies and HEIs rather than just offset the costs of the business purchasing a service from a HEI.

The scheme is broad in nature and encompasses all disciplines of academia from science, engineering and technology to arts, creative industries, humanities and social sciences. Likewise the range of company sectors can be from social enterprises to technology based companies so long as the eligibility criteria (below) are adhered to.

Support provided to eligible companies will include a contribution from European Structural Funds.

However funds may not be used to cover the costs of:

  • standard training courses
  • software purchases
  • aid that would promote/ subsidise the cost of exports
  • internships for students of knowledge institutions
  • design and production of advertising materials including websites and mobile applications
  • sales and marketing activities
  • Eligible costs include academic staff time, access to equipment and consumables to undertake the activities to be delivered during the project. A breakdown of the costs including staff costs for the actual work completed and other associated costs will be submitted with the final report and invoice. Eligible expenditure should be for activity explicitly set out in the approved application.

    The award (for an individual project) is for up to £5000, with a minimum of £1000, and will be paid upon submission (and sign off) of an invoice and final report by the academic institution to and approval by the Scottish Funding Council to offset the costs of the collaborative project. The company contribution is expected to match the grant contribution from the Scheme either through cash or in kind (staff time materials, access to facilities etc). All expenditure must be clearly accounted for in a final report.

    In ensuring maximum value for the scheme to benefit a wide range of institutions and businesses, both company and academic partners are encouraged to include some cash contributions from the company in the proposal. Bids should display that they are value for money, and not all be at the £5000 level.