Belfast zero emission ferry project among £400m UK government funding winners

Ferries using ‘electric hydrofoil propulsion’ technology and capable of carrying 350 passengers to be developed in Belfast Harbour

A Belfast-based project to develop zero emission, high-speed ferries in Northern Ireland was among the winners of over £400m in green research and development funding announced by the UK government today.

The 13-partner syndicate – which includes Artemis Technologies, Bombardier and local universities – has secured a £33m grant to help develop zero emission ships in Belfast Harbour capable of carrying 350 passengers.

The consortium said the ferries would be among the most environmentally-friendly in the world, using up to 90 per cent less energy by relying on a “totally unique” electric hydrofoil propulsion system.

The grant, which announced today as part of a major funding round from the government’s Research and Innovation Strength in Places Fund, will help fund the project for four years. Overall, the project secured £63m in funding from the programme, which pools government investment with funding from private firms and research institutions.



First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster praised the project, which she said would support local economic growth while also furthering the development of greener transport globally. “We are all proud of Belfast’s maritime and shipbuilding heritage,” she said. “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.”

Project lead Artemis Technologies – a spin-off off from professional sailing team Artemis Racing – estimated the project would create 125 research and development jobs in the shorter term and more than 1,000 jobs across the region over the next decade.

Artemis Technologies CEO Iain Percy, a double Olympic gold medallist in sailing, 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.”

The project was one of seven R&D initiatives to secure support in the latest £400m funding round from the UK Research and Innovation’s ‘Strength in Places Fund’ today, which supports projects aimed at driving regional economic growth. The funding includes £186m of government investment, backed by a further £230m from private firms and research institutions.

Other projects to secure support today include a consortium investigating smart packaging to cut food waste, which won a £33m funding, and a Cardiff University-led effort that has gained £44m funding to develop autonomous and electric vehicles in South Wales.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said the latest funding announced today would help ensure “some of our country’s most promising R&D projects get the investment they need to take off and thrive”.

“Working with the private sector our world-class universities, we’re backing new and innovative ideas that will create jobs and boost skills in every part of the UK for years to come,” he said.




By Cecilia Keating

June 28, 2020