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.


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 info@interface-online.org.uk 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.

    Be prepared for 2011-12 FP7 call opening

    The 2011-12 FP7 Energy research call is expected to open at the end of
    July 2011 and there was an information day in Brussels on 7th July to outline the key themes. There will be much more detailed information available through the EC website (ex CORDIS), but I thought an early flag of project areas might be a helpful start. The work is organised by Energy Activities and within each are project themes the EU would like to see explored. A summary of this is laid out below;

    There is alot in just the project headings!! And there are some interesting notes around renewable fuel production and renewable electricity generation that UHI partners might want to explore.

    Reliable, cost-effective, highly performing PV systems
    Innovative wind conversion systems
    Research, development and testing of solar dish systems
    Hybridisation of CSP with other energy sources
    Power generation in the low temperature range
    Biofuels from microalgae and macroalgae
    Development and testing of advanced sustainable bio-based fuels for air transport
    Research and development for medium temperature range solar collectors
    Sizeable pilot tests for CO2 geological storage
    Impact of the quality of CO2 on transport and storage
    Integration of variable distributed resources in distribution networks
    Enhancing electricity networks through use of distributed intelligence
    Empowering smart customers to participate in active demand and energy system efficiency
    Planning for European Electricity Highways to ensure the reliable delivery of renewable electricity and market integration
    Networking of national R&D and demonstration projects on smart metering infrastructure and data processing
    Facilitating the deployment of safe stationary batteries
    Next generation heat pump technologies
    Demonstration of multifunctional smart PV modules
    Demonstration of innovative designs to reduce fatique loads and improve reliability of multi-MW turbines
    Demonstration of first ocean energy farms
    Pre-commercial industrial scale demonstration plant on lignocellulosic ethanol
    Strategic sustainable planning and screening of city plans
    Large scale systems for urban area heating and/or cooling supply
    Demonstration of nearly zero energy building renovation for cities and districts
    Development of new or improved logistics for lignocellulosic biomass harvest, storage and transport
    There is alot there just in the project headings!! and there are some interesting areas around renewable fuel production and renewable electricity generation that partners might want to explore.

    FP7 is all about pan-europe research, and so delivery is undertaken by consortium groups drawn from across the EU. Finding out what projects there are out there, and what potential partners are out there can be challenging.

    There are a number of linking channels out there, but I would highlight in the first instance the project and partner databases that exist on CORDIS (get yourself registered as a minimum!) and the Knowledge Transfer Networks (KTN’s). A really useful tool is the KTN connect tool. This is a platform, provided through the TSB, where you can find people, share knowledge and join networks….again get yourself registered.

    NERC Research Fellowship Scheme update

    The current round of thirty fellowships are available to start October 2012 with a closing date on 1 November 2011.

    The Natural Environment Research Council Fellowship scheme provides opportunities for outstanding environmental scientists to devote their time to research, develop their research careers or to produce work of international importance.  NERC supports fellows undertaking environmental science research, including:  freshwater, Earth, atmospheric, marine, terrestrial, Earth observation, or polar.

    Additional information on fellowship schemes…

    Green challenge now accepting applications for 2011

    The Postcode Lottery Green Challenge is celebrating its 5th anniversary by offering £440,000 (€500,000) as a top prize for a sustainable and eco-friendly idea or concept, which has a commercial application, in order to help in the fight against climate change. In addition to the top prize, up to two runners up will receive £175,000 (€200,000) to help fund their respective projects as well.

    This year’s competition has an application deadline of 29th July 2011. They are keen to see a far greater number of submissions from the UK.

    The Green Challenge is a worldwide competition providing financial support and expert coaching to help winners bring their products to market. Entries that reduce CO2 emissions and score highly on design, user-friendliness and quality have a shot at the prize.

    Entrants are asked to submit detailed business plans of their projects to an expert preliminary jury who assess the entries’ viability and select five to seven finalists after the competition deadline. The finalists will present their ideas before an international jury of experts and an audience of invited guests on 14th and 15th September at the multimedia conference PICNIC ’11 in Amsterdam. After the presentations and private interviews with the finalists, the jury will choose the winner and the runners-up.

    Full information available on their dedicated website http://www.greenchallenge.info/

    SUPERGEN marine challenge: ESPRC

    The EPSRC have announced a new funding call with up to £3M available to spread over 3 projects – the Marine Challenge is an incentive to accelerate the deployment of marine energy (wave and tidal). Proposals are invited for collaborative research proposals for fundamental research that will overcome barriers to Marine energy deployment. The remit of this call will be those aspects of marine energy generation technologies, the environmental impacts of the technologies and the socioeconomic aspects of marine energy (including policy) that are holding back the deployment of marine energy and that were highlighted by the scoping workshop in March 2011. There should be a single submission with a single PI. The Institutions involved in the successful application(s) will be expected to become part of the core SUPERGEN Marine Hub.

    The call closes at 4pm on the 12th July 2011. Up to £3M is available for this call and up to three proposals only will be funded. The duration of the grant(s) will be up to three years.

    Anyone intending to submit a proposal to this call must register their interest by email to neil.bateman@epsrc.ac.uk by the 3rd June 2011

    Full details and documentation on EPSRC website