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Belfast to build zero emissions ferries following £60m funding boost
A Belfast maritime consortium led by Artemis Technologies has won a £33m government innovation grant to develop zero emissions ferries. With further investment from consortium partners, the total project investment will reach close to £60m over the next four years, creating an initial 125 research and development jobs, and leading to more than 1,000 in the region over the next 10 years.
Artemis Technologies, a spin-off from the America’s Cup sailing team, Artemis Racing, is led by double Olympic gold medallist Iain Percy OBE. He said: “For years, we’ve been designing low energy, high performance solutions for some of the fastest yachts on the planet, and we will now utilise 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.
“Our concept for an electric hydrofoil propulsion system is totally unique and will enable vessels of the future to operate with up to 90% less energy, and produce zero emissions during operation.”
Iain continued: “When we launched Artemis Technologies, we decided to base ourselves in Belfast because of the incredible aerospace and composite engineering talent available. 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.
“As cities across the world seek ways to reduce pollution and ease traffic congestion, the transformative vessels to be produced right here in Belfast, will have a global role to play in delivering the connected maritime transport system of the future.”
The Belfast consortium brings together a range of established and young firms, academia and public bodies, including: 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.
Michael J Ryan CBE, chief operating officer, aerostructures, Bombardier Aviation, added: “As the largest manufacturer in Northern Ireland, Bombardier Belfast is a centre of excellence for the design, manufacture and aftermarket support of complex metallic and advanced composite aerostructures and therefore can provide a depth of experience, capability and capacity in support of Artemis Technologies.
“Bombardier Belfast is keen to expand into markets that exploit our capabilities/advanced technology and where there are synergies with novel technologies. The Artemis Technologies project, in our view, represents a credible technology path that could provide a technological ‘step-change’ to the maritime sector and passenger transportation.”
Arlene Foster, first minister of Northern Ireland, said: “We are all proud of Belfast’s maritime and shipbuilding heritage. 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.
“This investment can support economic growth locally, but its impact could be felt globally through solutions to more sustainable transport.”
The grant comes from the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Strength in Places Fund.