Smart Shipping Acceleration Fund: The UK’s £8 Million Green Initiative

Innovate UK, in collaboration with the Department for Transport (DfT), is spearheading an ambitious initiative to invest up to £8 million in innovation projects designed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve air quality in shipping and port operations. This commitment is not just about preserving the environment but also about positioning the UK at the forefront of maritime technology and sustainable development.

The Drive Towards Sustainable Maritime Technology

The primary goal of this competition is to support detailed feasibility studies that explore innovative technology demonstrations of scalable smart shipping technologies. These technologies are expected to make significant strides in reducing emissions and enhancing air quality. From on-vessel systems to port infrastructure improvements, the scope of potential innovations is vast and varied, encompassing everything from energy efficiency to data-driven operational enhancements.

Applicants are invited to propose projects that combine technical and economic feasibility studies related to the development and demonstration of these cutting-edge technologies.

Competition Requirements and Scope

Projects eligible for funding must have total costs ranging from £75,000 to £750,000 and should be completed within a five-month period (1st November 2024 to 31st March 2025). All project activities must be carried out within the UK, with a clear intention to exploit the results domestically, emphasising the competition’s role in boosting local innovation and economic growth.

The competition is comprehensive in its reach, targeting all sizes and categories of maritime vessels, from pleasure crafts to commercial giants, as well as various infrastructures, including ports, harbours, and offshore installations like wind farms.

Innovation Themes and Project Expectations

Participants are encouraged to focus on several key areas:

  • Vessel Optimisation and Smart Efficiency Technologies: Enhancing the operational efficiency of ships through innovative solutions.
  • Autonomous Vessels and Subsystems: Developing control systems and sensors that facilitate autonomous maritime operations.
  • Smart Port Operations: Utilising digital tools to optimise port and shipyard operations, including smart route planning and emissions monitoring.

Projects must demonstrate a potential for significant reductions in GHG emissions or improvements in air quality. They are expected to result in a robust plan for real-world demonstrations by the end of 2027, detailing the technical approaches, objectives, and business cases.

Collaboration and Regulatory Compliance

Successful projects will require collaboration with a range of stakeholders, including vessel operators, port authorities, and potentially, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). Compliance with existing and future regulations will be paramount, as will engagement with DfT, Innovate UK, and any third-party contractors involved with the Smart Shipping Acceleration Fund.


Intellectual Property and Economic Impact

A clear strategy for commercializing the technology is crucial. Projects must not only anchor Intellectual Property (IP) within the UK but also outline how this IP will benefit the national supply chain long-term. The competition encourages participants from across the UK to contribute to job creation and economic expansion, particularly in regions with existing maritime expertise.

For a free consultation to discuss your project idea, contact us today.