A Belfast Maritime Consortium led by Artemis Technologies has won a £33 million UK Government innovation grant to develop zero emissions ferries in the city, that will revolutionise the future of maritime transport.
With further investment from consortium partners, the total project investment will reach close to £60m over the next four years, creating an initial 125 research and development jobs, and leading to more than 1,000 in the region over the next 10 years.
The 13-partner syndicate – which is a mix of established and young companies, including Belfast Harbour and Bombardier Aviation, academia and local public bodies – is the only Northern Irish or maritime recipient of the UK Research and Innovation flagship Strength in Places Fund.
Artemis Technologies is a spin-off from the America’s Cup sailing team, Artemis Racing, and is led by double Olympic gold medallist Iain Percy OBE.
“When we launched Artemis Technologies, we decided to base ourselves in Belfast because of the incredible aerospace and composite engineering talent available,” said Percy.
“Belfast’s local expertise coupled with the city’s rich shipbuilding heritage, and our own America’s Cup yacht design experience, will ensure Belfast is the global lead in zero emissions maritime technology.
“For years, we’ve been designing low energy, high performance solutions for some of the fastest yachts on the planet, and we will now utilise that knowledge and, along with our partners, apply it to build the world’s most environmentally friendly high-speed ferries, capable of carrying up to 350 passengers.
“Our concept for an electric hydrofoil propulsion system is totally unique and will enable vessels of the future to operate with up to 90% less energy and produce zero emissions during operation.
“As cities across the world seek ways to reduce pollution and ease traffic congestion, the transformative vessels, to be produced right here in Belfast, will have a global role to play in delivering the connected maritime transport system of the future.
“This investment from the UKRI Strength in Places Fund is a major endorsement of what we are trying to achieve, which we strongly believe will see Northern Ireland at the centre of the revolution in water transport.”
Joe O’Neill, Chief Executive, Belfast Harbour, comments: “As we continue to develop Belfast Harbour as a key economic hub and centre for innovation, we are pleased to partner with Artemis Technologies in this cutting-edge maritime design project which keeps our city firmly on the shipbuilding map. Ambitious, collaborative partnerships such as this are key enablers to help unlock ground-breaking technical innovations and this project fully aligns to Belfast Harbour’s vision to become one of the world’s greenest and best regional ports.
“Belfast Harbour is already home to a diverse range of businesses and this collaboration will only see that expand while also creating new pathways to employment and economic growth opportunities within Belfast and beyond.”
Research England’s Executive Chair, David Sweeney, who leads the Strength in Places Fund, states: “UK Research and Innovation’s flagship Strength in Places Fund is distinctive in specifically targeting investment to foster the local research and innovation ecosystems that can support sustained growth.
“All of these projects have the potential to deliver research and innovation that will transform activity within their target industries, in a way that is deeply rooted in local strengths and well linked to wider local economic plans.”
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