Friday, 22 February 2013

Scottish companies up for the offshore wind challenge?

R&D funding is available to support
the development of the offshore wind
 industry in Scotland, which it’s
 estimated has a direct market value
of over £7 billion.
Wanted – Scottish companies both large and small with ideas to help tackle some of the challenges facing the offshore wind industry in Scotland.

And there's funding available for the best projects, says development agencies Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

The agencies have launched a research and development funding call to support project ideas with the potential to reduce the cost of producing energy from offshore wind.

The funding call is seeking projects that meet some of the challenges the industry faces regarding installation, operation and maintenance (IOM) from businesses of all sizes, located within Scotland.

Currently installation accounts for 11% of the cost of producing offshore wind energy, while operations and maintenance is 19%. It is estimated that the global spend on installation will have reached £24 billion by 2020 and at the same point global annual spend on operation and maintenance will stand at nearly £1.2 billion.

The call is looking to support solutions that could address improvements to component quality and reliability; new technologies to facilitate installation and access; or novel approaches to carrying out IOM and the logistics that will underpin IOM activities.

Andy McDonald, Director of Renewable Energy and Low Carbon Technology at Scottish Enterprise, said, "Offshore wind is rapidly expanding on the global stage and Scotland is becoming a key location for innovation in the industry – particularly in the development of the next generation of wind turbine technologies.

"Thanks to decades of experience in oil and gas, Scotland has built up world leading offshore engineering and technology expertise. However, we know that challenges still exist and we need to look at increasing innovation in the industry to ensure that offshore wind designs meet the challenges of operating at sea.

"We want to work with more Scottish companies with the potential to deliver innovative solutions to some of these challenges to ensure the industry reaches its full potential."

Calum Davidson, Director of Energy and Low Carbon at Highlands and Islands Enterprise said, "This innovation call provides companies in the Highlands and Islands and across Scotland with the opportunity to develop the critical new solutions which will be instrumental in cutting costs in the fast-growing offshore wind sector. Offshore wind will play a hugely significant role in meeting Scotland's energy targets, and innovation calls such as this will ensure that firms across Scotland will play a central role in this burgeoning industry."

Other priority areas include drive train design integration and alternative support structures and foundations for challenging environments. Further calls will be made in Spring and Summer 2013.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Scotland's new spirit of entrepreneurship!

Finance Secretary John Swinney (centre) with Scottish EDGE  award winners.
A new spirit of entrepreneurship is developing in Scotland, says Scottish government Finance Secretary John Swinney.

He was speaking after funding worth a total of £540,000 was awarded to 17 of Scotland's brightest and most innovative start-ups in the first round of the Scottish government's Scottish EDGE Awards.

The Scottish EDGE fund aims to support and encourage entrepreneurial activity in Scotland. The Scottish government has worked closely with its enterprise agencies, Royal Bank of Scotland and business hothouse Entrepreneurial Spark in developing the new fund.


TWM Productions Ltd (Glasgow) £50,000
TWM helps parents/carers to develop their child’s vital motor skills through use of a four-in-one foldaway baby and toddler seat with recliner and angled tummy time platform. Funding will help establish production and make arrangements for financial management to support the company’s growth.

Thurso Cinema (Caithness) £50,000
Thurso Cinema Ltd operates cinema and bowling facilities. Funds will be used for the re-development of the full frontage of the cinema and to create a conferencing and events facility, as part of broader plans to establish a Digital Entertainment Centre in Thurso.

Shooze with Sole (Kilmarnock) £35,000
This footwear retailer offers a full fitting service and aims to educate parents on the benefits of wearing correctly fitting shoes. Funding will be used to open a fourth store on the West Coast of Scotland, creating employment in an area of high unemployment.

Talking Mats (Stirling) £50,000
Talking Mats uses a mat with symbols to help individuals with communication difficulties express themselves effectively. This funding will primarily be used to market and launch a digital mat.

Runners up

Relume (Perth) £20,000
Relume Design supplies products for use in Led lighting applications. Funding will enable the firm to purchase components to allow product sales to commence and undertake the necessary CE marking and EMC testing.

Freedom Brands (Glasgow) £35,000
Freedom Brands has developed Gococo, a healthy soft drink that is 100 per cent coconut water. Funding will be used to help Freedom Brands promote and market their product across retail outlets in Norway and Denmark.

Stormpods (Isle of Islay) £30,000
Stormpods produces fibreglass shelled pods that they can be part buried, covered in earth, turf, rock’s, etc.  and used as an alternative solution to a home extension or conservatory. Funding will be used towards the creation of a further pod, marketing support and employment to boost sales.

Micro Fitness (Lanarkshire) £25,000
The company provides fitness experiences and aims to inspire children to have a more active lifestyle. The company has built this up to include 15 fitness experiences and the funding will support plans to expand their business.

Glitter Beach (Lochwinnoch) £20,000
This company offers beach wear aimed specifically at consumers with Stoma bags and are finalising a new product aimed at improving wearability for users of Stoma bags. Funding will go towards plans to establish global sales.

SKG Europe Ltd t/a Hotbott (Glasgow) £40,000
The company sells Hott-Bott products which provide seat and hand heat solutions. With an impressive client listing including RBS, Celtic, Rangers, and Amazon, Hotbott are about to launch a new range of branded products. Funding will be used help Hotbott to create a global brand.

Stem Cloud (Glasgow) £10,000
StemCloud offer an online sound samples marketplace to producers and amateur ‘bedroom’ music-makers. Funding will be used to develop this audio synchronisation tool and accelerate the time to get the product to market.

Saloca Ltd t/a Appointedd (East Lothian) £30,000
This firm offers online business management software for salons and spas. The funding will be used to support the business on technical issues and business development.

Ladderlimb (Newton Stewart) £25,000
Ladderlimb is an innovative ladder accessory, which is available in the UK. Funding will be used to support the company with its growth plans.

Clear Returns (Glasgow) £30,000
Clear Returns offers ecommerce and multichannel retailers the chance to preserve as much of the basket value as possible post sale. Funding will be used to internationalise, provide sales support and support growth plans.

Quorate (Edinburgh) £20,000
Quorate makes audio and video searchable by keyword. Funding will ensure the firm can maximise the protection of their intellectual property and begin to develop the brand and proposition to take them through to sales.

Birthsparks (Ayrshire) £30,000
This firm creates innovative clinical products that are designed to support mothers during pregnancy and birth as well as babies within the first hour following birth. Funding will be used to complete testing and establish local manufacturing capability.

Eat Balanced (Glasgow) £40,000
This firm markets and sell food products that make it easier for everyone to achieve a balanced diet. They have produced their first range of pizzas and funding will support new product development and sales support.

Launched in October 2012, the competition received 235 applications and 100 of these were invited to an initial round of pitches in January. Applications for funding were considered by a Dragon's Den style investment panel, composed of Scotland's leading business people and entrepreneurs, who selected 20 finalists.

A final panel comprising Sir Willie Haughey (City Refrigeration), Sir Tom Hunter (Hunter Foundation), Julie Grieve (PSYBT), Alex Paterson (HIE) and Gordon Merrylees (RBS) selected the 17 finalists.

Mr Swinney said, "I am seeing a new spirit of entrepreneurship developing in Scotland, building on our nation's proud tradition as innovators and the inaugural EDGE Awards celebrates and supports fresh Scottish business talent.

"The Scottish government recognises that the private and public sector must work together to assist business growth in Scotland and that's why we established the £2 million Scottish EDGE fund to unlock investment for entrepreneurs.

"We are focused on maintaining Scotland's position as the most supportive environment for business in the UK. The EDGE has awarded 17 ambitious entrepreneurs with funds to establish or grow their business and contribute to Scotland's economic success.

"Entrepreneurial Spark has been a key part of this fund and the Scottish government has been excited to facilitate this innovative new approach to business support, which I consider will be crucial in developing some of the ambitious next generation entrepreneurs.

"I would like to congratulate the winners and the runners-up in this first round of funding. The 17 successful enterprises have demonstrated their growth potential and I wish them every success in the future."

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Scotland's offshore expertise heads down under!

Scotland's offshore expertise heads
 down under.
Scotland's world-renowned offshore expertise could see Scottish firms win a share of Australia's booming oil and gas sector spending, estimated to be worth more than £15 billion over the next five years.

In a bid to tap into the increasingly lucrative market, a delegation of 25 companies from Scotland is heading to Western Australia where it will visit the Australasian Oil & Gas Exhibition & Conference in Perth, the largest event of its type in Australia.

And while there, the Scottish companies will share their knowledge and innovative approaches to the offshore sector – as well as exploring new trade opportunities.

Three of the companies taking part in the trade mission, WFS Technologies, Opus and QEM, will launch new products at the event aimed at the Australian market, highlighting Scotland's continuing role in innovation in the sector at a global level.

The Scottish Development International trade mission is the largest of its type from Scotland to Australia. The country’s offshore sector is currently experiencing rapid growth and those taking part in the delegation include experts in training, sub sea and downhole technology and software solutions.

The trade mission is being led by Scottish Enterprise Chief Executive Lena Wilson. Speaking about the opportunities for Scottish companies in this market, she said, "Scotland has developed world-leading knowledge and expertise since the first discoveries of oil and gas in our waters 40 years ago.

"We've built up a global reputation for our innovative response to the challenges of operating in the harsh conditions of the North Sea, particularly in areas such as deep water sub sea technologies, health and safety and quality standards.

“With the Australian oil and gas industry expected to spend up to £15.4 billion on new projects in the next five years alone, there are significant opportunities for our companies to share their knowledge and innovation with operators in Australian markets, while tapping into new export markets."

WFS Technologies, (Livingstone)

A world-leading developer of wireless systems for sub sea communications, control and instrumentation, it will launch Viewtooth® to the Australian market - the world’s first sub sea camera using patented wireless technology to stream moving images through water.

Opus (R&D Centre in Orkney)

A global leader in the decontamination of produced water, one of the key challenge of industry, will launch an innovative new trial kit at the show.

QEM Solutions (Moffat)

IT based consultancy and project services will launch new cloud-based software which improve processes, productivity, privacy and safety.

Scottish Enterprise is Scotland's main economic development agency and aims to deliver a significant, lasting effect on the Scottish economy by identifying and exploiting the best opportunities for economic growth.

Scottish Development International (SDI) is a partnership between the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which works to attract inward investment to Scotland and helps Scottish based companies to trade overseas.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Latest figures show Scottish exports are soaring!

MESL Microwave, Edinburgh.

Scottish exports are hitting new heights, according to the latest official figures.

Exports increased by £1.6 billion to £23.9 billion in 2011 - despite the global slowdown.

Growth markets included the EU and Asia, up 14.7% and 8.7% respectively compared to 2010.

Scottish companies have also strengthened international economic links, says the tenth Global Connections Survey which has just been published.

The top five exporting industries in 2011, says the survey, were:
  • food and beverages (£4.2 billion)
  • manufacture of coke, refined petroleum and chemicals (£3.7 billion)
  • computer, electronic and optical products (£1.4 billion)
  • financial and insurance activities (£1.4 billion)
  • mechanical engineering sector (£1.4 billion)
Together these industries accounted for around 50% of total international exports from Scotland.

Scotland First Minister Alex Salmond and Scottish Enterprise CEO Lena Wilson recently visited MESL Microwave, an Edinburgh-based microwave and electronics firm, which exports 70% of products and is strengthening its work in the emerging space market.

MESL is increasing its overseas activity with the support of Scottish Enterprise, which includes £67,000 research and development funding for the development of space components. Since diversifying its operations to capitalise on the space sector, it has exported products to NASA (USA), Mitsubishi (Japan) and Thales Alenia Space (France).

The Global Connections Survey shows that USA remains Scotland's top export destination with an estimated £3.5 billion of exports in 2011. This is followed the Netherlands (£2.7 billion), France (£1.9 billion) and Germany (£1.4 billion).

Exports to the rest of the UK in 2011 are estimated at £45.5 billion, with £24.5 billion attributable to service sector companies and £11.6 billion to manufacturing sector companies.

The continuing engagement of the Scottish Government and its enterprise agencies with other countries is driven by its overarching purpose of increasing sustainable economic growth. The Government Economic Strategy has set a target to deliver a 50% increase in the value of international exports by 2017.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said, "Strengthening Scotland's economic links to other countries is a priority of this government and this latest survey demonstrates that our drive and work to seize overseas exports is really taking off – our exports have literally rocketed.

"The public sector is focused on working effectively with the business community to showcase on a global stage the products and services Scotland has to offer, and to help companies operating in Scotland to grow and export.

"MESL are boldly going where few Scottish exporters have gone before through their work with NASA and Mitsubishi, and they are just one of the many firms receiving advice and support from our enterprise agencies to grasp growth opportunities.

"There are exciting opportunities to seize in emerging economies in Asia, South America, the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe and also in the traditional export markets such as US and Europe. Improving our access and dialogue with international growth markets will open up Scottish exports to new customers and build on Scotland's attractiveness as a place for international trade and investment.

"The work of Scottish Development International, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise is supporting our economy and is a key resource for the companies driving the £1.6 billion increase in 2011 exports.

"This latest survey shows welcome growth, which takes us another step towards our target of a 50% increase in the value of international exports by 2017. In this economic climate we recognise there's no room for complacency and that is why we are using every lever currently available to us to secure new investment and to increase the number and value of Scottish exports."

MESL Microwave Managing Director Mike Huggan said, "We are implementing a 10-year plan to diversify into the space payload market to create the highly skilled, high added value jobs required to ensure that Scotland and the UK remain at the forefront of the world's technology markets.

"The world class engineering skills available in Scotland has already been recognised with our company winning projects to develop components for NASA (Jet Propulsion Labs) for a satellite to measure the oceans surface height, and with Mitsubishi for components for the guidance of the HTV rocket, which is the new supply vessel for the International Space Station that replaces the US space shuttle, along with Thales Alenia Space and Astrium, two of the world's leading satellite manufacturers.

"We are working with Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International to ensure our continued success in this new space market and new geographical territories. Ninety-five per cent of the products we have designed for space are for export markets, this new strategic direction for MESL will ensure the success of the company for the coming 48 years whilst remaining in Scotland."

Chief Executive of Scottish Enterprise Lena Wilson said, "These figures clearly demonstrate the continued demand for Scottish products and services globally. The results are hugely significant and report strong growth in exports to emerging markets such as Asia and South America, as well as sustained growth in the more traditional economies and further highlight the international growth opportunities which exist for Scottish companies.

"We continue to work hard with our partners to provide a joined-up package of international business support that helps Scottish companies increase their international trade in order to drive forward both their own growth and that of the Scottish economy."