The 12-month initiative aims to research and develop a clean energy storage system, recharged from renewable energy at the shore via a lightweight subsea cable. It is expected to lead to commercial activity and the creation of four “highly skilled” jobs in Argyll.
Funding has been made possible through Highlands and Islands Enterprise’s (HIE) role as a delivery partner in the Co-Innovate programme, which is supported by a European Union initiative.
This programme supports innovation and cross-border research and development projects in parts of Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Shetland-based firm Ocean Kinetics is leading the latest project. The company has expanded into Argyll and established a base at Malin House in the European Marine Science Park (EMSP) near Oban.
Vicki Hazley, Co-Innovate programme manager at HIE, said: “This collaborative R&D project is about addressing the need for a more efficient and responsive means of using renewable energy in aquaculture.
“As well as reducing operating costs, it has potential to lead to significant reductions in carbon emissions, helping the industry’s contribution to net zero.
“We are very pleased to be able to provide funding and look forward to seeing the product move towards commercialisation.”
John Henderson, managing director of Ocean Kinetics, said: “Aquaculture is an important and growing sector for us and, like other industries, it must move away from fossil fuels. Key to this will be commercially viable clean power systems.
“Co-Innovate has allowed us to accelerate our plans to establish a base in Argyll.
“Malin House provides co-location with a number of innovative marine businesses so we are excited to see what possibilities that will bring.”
Ocean Kinetics is working with MMG Welding, which provides engineering design, fabrication and installation services to the salmon farming industry in the north west of Ireland. The firms are also working with Edinburgh-based Stortera - a young technology development business offering smart and flexible energy storage systems.
Morag Goodfellow, HIE’s area manager in Argyll and the Islands, added: “Ocean Kinetics’ expansion into Argyll further strengthens the growing marine innovation cluster at the EMSP, where they will be working alongside other innovation businesses involved in the blue economy. This is good news for the company, for the EMSP and for Argyll.”
The Co-Innovate programme encourages cross-border research and innovation among small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in fragile areas.
In Scotland, it supports innovation in SMEs in Argyll and Bute, Lochaber, Skye and Lochalsh, the Outer Hebrides, Ayrshire and Arran, and Dumfries and Galloway. It also covers Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland.
The Co-Innovate partnership is led by InterTradeIreland and includes HIE, Scottish Enterprise, Enterprise Northern Ireland, the local enterprise offices in the border counties of Ireland, and East Border Region. Match-funding for the programme has been provided by HIE and Scottish Enterprise in Scotland, the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation in Ireland.