Harwell EnergyTec cluster makes impressive progress

Harwell Campus, Didcot

Harwell Campus, the UK’s science and innovation hub, has revealed the impressive progress of its EnergyTec Cluster since its launch last May. The Cluster has grown 17 per cent and now includes 35 industry, academic and public organisations working on the Campus, collectively employing around 900 people. A further 26 companies, which started off in Harwell’s Space or HealthTec Clusters, have also refocussed on the energy sector as a major market for their innovative technologies.

The technologies emerging from these 61 organisations, which include energy storage, battery technologies and carbon neutral alternatives to fossil fuels, will influence every aspect of life across work, travel and recreation, improving the environment and developing sustainable alternatives for the future.

The announcement was made at the Clean Growth and Infrastructure Innovation Conference at Harwell , where the UK’s energy experts met to understand the opportunities for the UK’s Energy sector arising from the Government’s £170 million investment from the Industrial Clusters mission.

Through its Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the Government is aiming to attract innovators, investors and problem solvers to create low-carbon alternatives to fossil fuels. The capability and technology that innovation hubs such as Harwell’s EnergyTec Cluster can offer puts the UK in a strong position to reach the UK’s ambitious objective of establishing a net-zero carbon industrial cluster by 2040.

Harwell Campus, which in total has 200 organisations employing 5,500 people focuses on successfully commercialising scientific research and new technologies through clusters in the major markets of space, health and energy.

The EnergyTec Cluster counts multinational organisations including Siemens and EDF Energy among its cohort, consultants such as Ricardo Energy & Environment, and fast-growing start-ups such as Zap&Go and MIRICO.

The Faraday Institution, which has received a £74 million investment from the UK Government to accelerate battery technology in the UK, sits at the heart of the Cluster alongside open access facilities, the Diamond Lightsource and ISIS Neutron & Muon Source.

“Harwell Campus’s uniqueness lies in its cross-industry collaboration,” says Dr Barbara Ghinelli, Cluster and Campus Business Development Director at Harwell Campus for the UKRI Science and Technology Facilities Council. “Through shared learning and collaboration new business opportunities are identified and innovative solutions to long standing problems are created”.

One company that has benefitted from collaboration at Harwell is spin-out, MIRICO. Its laser gas sensing technology, originally designed to measure atmospheric constituents in space, has been found to have commercial ground-based applications. MIRICO’s technology can more accurately measure atmospheric pollutants for a variety of environmental and industrial applications including energy companies, helping them to determine where to focus their efforts in improving mitigating fugitive emissions, reducing carbon footprint and lost product, and improving the safety of operations. The technology has already been deployed in trials by major energy companies and is scheduled for full commercial launch in 2019.

“Harwell Campus’ combination of state-of-the-art research facilities and access to organisations that we can collaborate with makes it the ideal environment to develop a product and grow a company,” said Mohammed Belal, Founder and Business Development Director, at MIRICO. “At Harwell, our technology has gone from the STFC lab to deployments within major organisations, which couldn’t have been achieved anywhere near as quickly without the ability to share resources, knowledge and even contacts with other companies operating in this unique environment.”

Angus Horner, Harwell Campus Partner and Director added: “Harwell Campus is an energy powerhouse with all the components available in one place to fast-track a company’s R&D and commercial growth, to meet the ambitious targets set forward in the Industrial Challenge Strategy.”