The UK Government awarded a £33 million innovation grant to a consortium of Belfast-based companies to develop and build a revolutionary new design for zero emission hydrofoil ferries. With further investment from consortium partners bringing the total close to £60 million over the next four years, the project is proposing an electric hydrofoil propulsion system that will enable vessels to operate with up to 90 percent less energy and produce zero emissions during operation.
The syndicate, which is a mix of established and young companies, is being led by Artemis Technologies, a spin-off from the America’s Cup sailing team, Artemis Racing. Other members of the group include Belfast Harbour and Bombardier, academia, and local public bodies.
“Belfast’s local expertise coupled with the city’s rich shipbuilding heritage, and our own America’s Cup yacht design experience, will ensure Belfast is the global lead in zero emissions maritime technology,” said Iain Percy, founder of Artemis Technologies. “For years, we’ve been designing low energy, high-performance solutions for some of the fastest yachts on the planet, and we will now utilize that knowledge, and along with our partners, apply it to build the world’s most environmentally friendly high-speed ferries, capable of carrying up to 350 passengers.”
The project was the only Northern Irish or maritime recipient of the UK Research and Innovation flagship Strength in Places Fund. The fund’s goal is to “bring together researchers, industry, and local leadership together in outstanding collaborative programs that will catalyze regional excellence and economic growth across the UK.”
“We are all proud of Belfast’s maritime and shipbuilding heritage,” said First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster. “However, it is even more exciting to look towards a future which can see Northern Ireland once again leading the way with world-class manufacturing and cutting-edge technology. I pay tribute to all those involved in the project which demonstrates so clearly the benefits of collaboration between business, academia, and government at all levels. This investment can support economic growth locally, but its impact could be felt globally through solutions to more sustainable transport.”
In total, 13 companies are participating in the program. They include Artemis Technology, Belfast Harbour, Bombardier Belfast, Northern Ireland Advanced Composites Engineering (NIACE), Creative Composites, Energia, Catalyst, Invest Northern Ireland, Ulster University, Belfast Met, Queen’s University, Belfast, Ards and North Down Borough Council, and Belfast City Council.
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