East Anglia: OrbisEnergy marks fifth anniversary with £2.5m innovation funding programme

The OrbisEnergy centre at Lowestoft.

The OrbisEnergy centre at Lowestoft. - Credit: Contributed

OrbisEnergy, the East of England’s flagship innovation and incubation centre for offshore renewables, is celebrating five years of supporting business and supply chain growth.

And to mark the anniversary, OrbisEnergy is launching a new £2.5million supply chain innovation funding programme supporting small to medium size businesses develop new and innovative systems and technologies.

Grants up to £50,000 are available to drive real growth in the offshore renewable energy supply chain.

With some of the world’s biggest windfarms being built off the East of England, there are increasing opportunities for businesses using the specially designed innovation centre.

The OrbisEnergy centre, owned by Suffolk County Council and managed by enterprise specialists NWES, has supported more than 120 tenant companies with a growing number graduating into their own purpose built facilities, creating space for new start-ups and entrepreneurs to follow in their footsteps. Over the five years tenants have created over 130 new jobs.

Offshore companies like Seajacks UK, 3sun and Windcat Workboats are among those to graduate into bigger premises.

John Balch, strategic director for OrbisEnergy and NWES, said: “In the last five years we’ve seen it all. We’ve got award winning tenant companies developing new and innovative technologies; new multi-tenant joint ventures; mergers and acquisitions within the building; and companies who have secured significant £multi-million investment to support rapid growth.

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“We’ve immensely proud of the success of our tenant companies, many of whom are leading the offshore renewable sector’s development here and abroad.”

OrbisEnergy also houses offices for major international companies, such as SSE and East Anglia Offshore Wind, which use the centre to ensure they are at the heart of the offshore wind power sector and supply chain.

SSE was one of the beneficiaries when Energy secretary Ed Davey last week announced additional funding for offshore wind innovation developments. It received a £1m grant for research which will include foundation testing.

Through the £1.6billion development of the Greater Gabbard Offshore Wind Farm, the second largest wind farm in the world, SSE and its partners RWE have invested in Lowestoft for the long term by building its operations base at the former Waveney fish docks.

Johnathan Reynolds, OrbisEnergy business development lead, said: “The centre plays a vital part in the rapidly developing offshore renewables sector and we also have a key role in forging closer links between major offshore companies and the local supply chain.”

He said they could offer tenants professional business support, conference facilities and daily ‘networking’ - all within an inspirational building. Help was available for companies seeking finance and they offered a range of specialist industry support and grant funding opportunities.

Fully-serviced tenancy options are always available for start-ups, entrepreneurs and high-growth potential businesses.