Never have an idea
It might seem a bit of a strange thing to say for someone who works at Innovate UK, but my advice is: never have an idea.
Why? Simply because if you do, and you push on enough doors, eventually someone might ask you to deliver on that idea.
In fairness, this time it wasn’t entirely my idea, but I decided to champion it at Innovate UK, and people seemed to like it. So now I have to deliver on it. I’m not going to do it alone, of course, but more on that later.
If there is one thing I have learnt, it is that inspiration comes from unexpected places. For example:
- the Maclaren pushchair was inspired by aircraft landing gear
- memory foam mattresses use material originally developed for space flight
- formula 1 cockpit design is used to protect soldiers in armoured vehicles
- building work platforms are now used for blade inspection
Wait, what was that last one? Just an example of a successful innovation in offshore wind that was not derived in that industry and whose development was part funded by Innovate UK.
That brings me back to that idea that should never have been. Wouldn’t it be great to capture some of that cross-sector innovation to help drive down the cost of offshore wind?
Offshore wind – the opportunity
There is more than 5GW of offshore wind already installed in UK waters: 4.5GW of projects under construction and a significant pipeline of projects emerging across the world.
I think that offshore wind energy presents a real opportunity for UK companies to diversify and expand both at home and abroad.
Who would be great for technology transfer?
In thinking about which other sectors might be suitable targets to exploit this opportunity, the natural comparisons come to my mind:
- industries that have experience of working in harsh environments
- those that are expert in doing things remotely
- those that operate with similar physical scale of product
But more than that, I need to target sectors that:
- want to diversify
- are experienced in it
- whose core market is on a downturn
The answer: Offshore wind should meet space, defence and oil & gas.
Actually, in this case, space, defence and oil & gas should meet offshore wind.
If you recall, I said that I wasn’t going to do this all on my own. With the assistance of Orbis Energy and Knowledge Transfer Network, I have devised a unique event to bring together these four distinct industries to facilitate sharing of ideas and cross sector innovation.
The regional opportunity
I am really excited by this collaboration since the location at Lowestoft makes perfect sense.
The East of England services the southern North Sea, which is the most densely populated area of UK waters for offshore wind farms and oil and gas activity, bringing growth opportunity for existing supply chains.
The space sector was already targeting an event in the region and it made sense to join forces.
Additionally, I hope to see interest in the Score fund increase as a result, which provides funding support for innovative businesses in the region who wish to target offshore wind.
Maybe you should have ideas after all
So I want to encourage others to come up with the ideas. Maybe if someone likes them you will be asked to deliver on them and maybe fortune will favour the brave.
You can follow Innovate UK on:
- Innovate UK Twitter @innovateuk
- For more Innovate UK videos subscribe to our YouTube channel here
- Sign up for email notifications on funding, connections & support opportunities
- Follow Innovate UK on Facebook
- Connect with Innovate UK on Linkedin