£12m Aura Innovation Centre at Bridgehead business park by Humber Bridge gets go-ahead

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 27 Apr 2018

The final piece of a funding jigsaw has been secured to pave the way for a new £12m renewable energy innovation centre near Hessle.

A £4m grant from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) means construction work on the new complex will start later this year.

The ERDF funding deal was announced yesterday at a major offshore wind conference being held in Hull.

The new Aura Innovation Centre will be built at the Bridgehead business park near the Humber Bridge.

Siemens Gamesa's factory in Hull

It aims to provide a programme of support for smaller firms looking to collaborate with the renewable energy sector, in particular offshore wind and low-carbon technology.

Other funding is coming from two of the original Aura project partners, the University of Hull and Green Port Hull.

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Speaking at today's conference, Aura director Ben George said: "It is often small and medium-sized companies who are prepared to innovate, think and operate differently.

"The Aura Innovation Centre is all about encouraging that innovative thinking.

"It's about fostering a place where collaboration can happen easily to kick-start the low-carbon energy supply chain here in the Energy Estuary.

Turbine blades and towers being shipped from Hull to the Race Bank wind farm

"By bringing together all the different players to develop a robust and sustainable network, we will ensure that the UK continues to lead the way in offshore wind, regionally, nationally and globally.

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"The substantial funding that we now have in place to build the centre is the culmination of a vision that the original Aura partners had two years ago which was to see the Energy Estuary as the hub for offshore wind and low carbon innovation.

"Since then the Aura partnership has grown and will continue to expand as we seek to collaborate more widely."

Other partners in the project include Siemens Gamesa, Ørsted and the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership.

Dr David Richards, pro vice chancellor for research and enterprise at the University of Hull, said "I am delighted to see that this vision is becoming a reality.

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"We still have a lot to do but this is certainly the right time. This major win for the region comes just as a sector deal for offshore wind is being negotiated with the government.

"Part of the industry’s vision is to create clusters, much like the activity here in this region, which will bring growth not only to the sector but to other industries."

LIGHTS ON: Picture shows the huge 75m blades being loaded on to the Sea Installer

Recruiting for the jobs in the team running the new centre will start immediately, with positions expected to be filled in advance of the building opening in 2019.

The development will house a £2m centre of excellence carrying out cutting-edge research and development work to help improve the way offshore wind farms operated and maintained.

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In addition, some of the Aura partners are also taking part in a research programme being led by the University of Sheffield aimed at reducing the cost of electricity from offshore wind.

Engineering experts from Hull will look at the performance management of turbines to better predict their lifespan, as well as using bone-modelling research to design sections of blades to make them lighter and stronger.

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