UK, Japan in funding call for subsea innovation projects

David Rennie, head of oil and gas at Scottish Enterprise (L) and Neil Gordon, chief executive of Subsea UK (R)

Industry body Subsea UK, in partnership with economic development agency Scottish Enterprise (SE), has opened an R&D funding call for subsea innovation projects.

Subsea UK said on Monday that the project was a part of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between SE and Japanese philanthropic organization Nippon Foundation at SPE Offshore Europe in September.

The strategic agreement aims to help both countries capitalize on opportunities in the growing subsea sector. The two parties will provide equal funding, totaling approximately £15 million to support joint projects between the two countries that “maximize the use and development of digital technologies and challenge conventional industry methods and techniques.”

Subsea UK and Scottish Enterprise will have support from the National Subsea Research Initiative and the Industry Technology Facilitator in coordinating a program of research and development activities to accelerate the introduction and adoption of new and disruptive technologies.

The industry body invited organizations to step forward with ideas, products, and services that meet the needs of the evolving subsea sector.

Scotland already accounts for 14 percent of the global subsea market, with […] an estimated annual turnover of £7.5 billion

Applications are being sought in the areas of subsea digital oilfield technologies (real-time underwater communication, inspection, monitoring and control, subsea sensors, robotics, and artificial intelligence) and subsea oil and gas innovation (well productivity and intervention, well design, low-cost drilling, decommissioning, subsea factory, remote monetisation, and challenging field development).

Companies can submit an expression of interest until March 2018 with full proposal applications due by June 2018.

Subsea UK added that the collaboration work with Japan would make a strong contribution to the delivery of the Subsea Engineering Action Plan, launched by SE earlier this year, with the aim of capturing a bigger slice of the £50 billion global subsea market by Scottish companies.

Neil Gordon, chief executive of Subsea UK, said: “Scotland already accounts for 14 percent of the global subsea market, with approximately 370 companies generating an estimated annual turnover of £7.5 billion.

“We have worked closely with Scottish Enterprise over the past three years to help nurture the relationship and build trust between Japan and Scotland. This has been achieved by supporting Scottish Enterprise and its international arm SDI on trade missions to Japan which included numerous high-profile meetings and presentations with key Japanese organizations including the Nippon Foundation.”

David Rennie, head of oil and gas at Scottish Enterprise, added: “We have worked closely with Subsea UK and NSRI over the past three years to pull this initiative together and it’s extremely encouraging to finally see our efforts come to fruition. This is a major deal that will see Scotland and Japan work collaboratively to pioneer the technology needed to overcome even the most complex of challenges faced by the subsea industry, now and for decades to come.”

The industry body also said that a series of workshops would be arranged and hosted at Subsea UK offices over the next few months to assist companies with the application process.

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