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Commercialisation of technology is key to growth of the global blue economy

Published by , Senior Editor
World Pipelines,

The UK has an unrivalled track record of technological innovation, but ideas frequently fail between invention and commercialisation. To help cross this chasm, the National Subsea Research Institute (NSRI) has developed a tool which provides a clear indication of the potential commercial viability of early stage technology in the subsea industry, supporting technology and innovation developers, funding organisations and investors.

By measuring the viability of a technical concept through analysis of various factors including market conditions and funding requirements, the tool provides a systematic approach and helps identify exactly where pioneering companies should be focusing their efforts.

This in turn will help the UK subsea industry capitalise on its world leading expertise to foster and develop the blue economy.

Current annual global spend across the blue economy is around £20 billion, with a forecast rise to £140 billion by 2035. The UK is in a dominant position with a 40% share of almost £8 billion.

NSRI is the focal point for subsea research and development in the UK. Tony Laing, Director – research and market acceleration at NSRI, says: “As an enabling organisation, we are dedicated to understanding demand-led technology gaps and supporting supplier-led technology solutions. With our unique combination of deep domain knowledge and impartiality, we are in prime position to take a lateral approach to cross-industry challenges and priorities in terms of technology requirements. In the current precarious economic climate, technology development and innovation has never been more important, but it must be underpinned with a sound business case.

“Companies regularly come to us with strong engineering-based innovations, however establishing robust commercial viability is often not considered by businesses early enough in the idea generation process.

“With meaningful outputs in dashboard format, our commercialisation tool visualises uncertainties and shows companies exactly where they should focus their efforts to drive maximum business value and return on investment. That could be towards internal resources, delivering the technology or external market-led factors. The outputs are also incredibly valuable for allowing investors and stakeholders to understand the existence of customer-led demand.

“The energy landscape is changing at an incredible rate, and the UK’s subsea industry is well-placed to capitalise on the many opportunities surrounding the blue economy, energy transition and digitalisation. However, capturing opportunities and implementing robust commercial thinking is going to be key for success.”

One company which has directly benefited from support provided by NSRI, is SMS. Established in 2004, SMS provides sensory data analysis and visualisation for the oil and gas industry.

SMS development director, Alistair Moncur, says: “NSRI has helped shape our strategic growth and diversification planning in the UK and internationally through their comprehensive commercialisation approach. This has included exploring the wider energy transition and other aspects of the blue economy, such as defence. By enabling us to understand the commercial advantages of incorporating a digital AI system into our core technology, we have created significant growth opportunity and the potential to quadruple the size of our market over the short to medium term.

“During these challenging times, dealing with the impact of COVID-19 and volatility in hydrocarbon prices, building opportunities in a low carbon future has been pivotal for SMS.”

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