Region’s innovators head to Sweden for Innovate UK visit to drive sustainable aviation


Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, has is taking 15 innovators in sustainable aviation to visit Sweden this week to meet potential partners and foster international technology collaboration.

The companies include Hardide Coatings at Bicester, Progressive Technology in Newbury, Qdot Technology at Didcot, Reaction Engines in Abingdon and Bristol-based fibre-steering business, iCOMAT.

iCOMAT, a spin-out from the University of Bristol,was selected for its specialisms in effective fibre-steering that can unlock the full potential of composites, enabling lightweight, sustainable and cost-efficient structures to be produced.

iCOMAT has worked with leading Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and Tier 1s to demonstrate the technology on aerostructures, showing weight savings of 20-50% at component level, compared to conventional straight fibre designs.

The week-long visit will introduce the delegates to Sweden’s top aerospace companies, academics and research institutes and through structured workshops, specialist facility visits and networking opportunities, the delegates will identify common challenges and discuss new technologies.

Topics for discussion will include new propulsion systems, all electric and hybrid engines, lightweighting and composite materials.

The aim will be to foster long-term technology collaborations that will help fuel a more sustainable global net zero aviation sector.

Innovate UK funds the innovation visit through its Global Business Innovation Programme (GBIP), a competitive scheme that aims to identify some of the UK’s most ambitious companies. The GBIP competition selects businesses that are developing cutting edge technologies and helps them enter international markets of strategic importance to find technology and innovation partners.

As part of the programme, delegates will benefit from support from Innovate UK EDGE innovation and Growth Specialists, enabling them to accelerate market access and achieve scale in this important market.

Sweden has a well-established aviation sector which turns over more than €2.6 billion annually and is a world-leader in the transition towards “sustainable aviation.” In 2020, Sweden became the first nation to eliminate fossil fuels in airport operations and by 2030, it aims to make all domestic flights fossil fuel-free.

The UK is also very strong in this technology, with the third largest aviation network in the world and the second largest aerospace manufacturing sector. Currently, 4.5% of the UK’s GDP is supported by the air transport sector which employs 1.6 million people and enjoys revenues of over £60 billion. Aerospace manufacturing currently generates annual exports of £26 billion and with an estimated global market opportunity of £3.5 trillion over the next 20 years, it is well positioned to maintain its global market position.