Since leaving the EU, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set a target of establishing the UK as a “science and technology superpower” by 2030. Mr Johnson has noted that he wants to turn the UK’s success in developing one of the first Covid vaccines and apply those strengths to areas like technology and the energy sector.
The energy sector has been a particular point of focus since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as the UK looks to boost its energy security through an energy mix that comprises of North Sea natural gas and strong renewable energy capacity.
Mr Johnson’s ambitions may come true soon, as a group of UK based universities have joined together to develop the Arroll Gibb Innovation Campus (AGIC), which the researchers believe will lead to the development of thousands of skilled jobs.
This campus aims to serve a range of small to medium-sized enterprises in the marine, nuclear and energy-transition sectors by offering access to the latest industrial techniques and technology, industrial and office space, innovation advice and skills development.
Commenting on the Government’s “science superpower” goals, Professor Conchúr Ó Brádaigh, Head of the School of Engineering at the University of Edinburgh told Express.co.uk: “What we want to do is to turn all that superpower science into jobs.
“Science is one thing – I’m an engineer, we use science, we apply science.
“We’re the bridge between scientists and companies and we’re happy to take scientific ideas from this university and other universities and to scale them up and apply them to companies who need solutions and want new products and solutions, especially when it comes to trying to get to net zero.”
As one of their first projects, the AGIC, which comprises Babcock International, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Strathclyde, Fife College, Fife Council and Scottish Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland, have developed FastBlade, which is the world’s first rapid testing facility for tidal turbine blades.
The researchers believe that this facility can speed up the development of marine energy technologies, like wind and tidal power, while helping to reduce costs.
Professor Ó Brádaigh noted that this facility would give the “UK a leader in the development of tidal energy.”
He added: “The problem is that if you’re building a tidal turbine blade, how do you know that it’s going to last for more than 20 years.
“The only way to do that is to accelerate the testing and do 20 years’ worth of live testing in a few months, but there aren’t any other facilities to do that.
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“Since other countries don’t have such test facilities, it will encourage companies to come and do their development work in the UK.”
Scotland Minister Malcolm Offord said: “The UK Government is delighted to support this rapid test facility with £1.8million from EPSRC, as part of UK Research and Innovation.
“This test site, born from innovative research at the University of Edinburgh and engineering firm Babcock, will not only aid the UK’s Net Zero ambitions, but it will also support thousands of skilled energy sector jobs as we transition to a more sustainable future.”