Business

Consortium behind new shipbuilding technology says new Belfast venture could create hundreds of jobs

Artemis Technologies chief executive Iain Percy (right), with Adrian Doyle of The Odyssey Trust, unveiling the new AC45 vessel at the W5 in Belfast
Ryan McAleer

A NEW company leading an innovative Belfast shipbuilding consortium has said the venture could soon create hundreds of jobs in the city.

Artemis Technologies, which has the backing of Bombardier in Belfast, will hear in April whether it will benefit from a bid for £30 million in funding to support the development of its new project to decarbonise maritime transport.

In December, Artemis Technologies announced a joint venture with Denmark's Tuco Marine Group to produce the world's first zero-emissions workboat in Belfast by integrating its new electric efoiler propulsion system into an 11m carbon fibre vessel.

The company has already invested around £5m, creating 24 jobs in Belfast harbour, where it is manufacturing a new prototype boat.

The company's chief executive, Dr Iain Percy, predicted that the Artemis-led project could soon create hundreds of jobs in Belfast, with a considerable number in the supply-chain.

The project, which is combining hydrofoil technology with Belfast's aircraft wing-making expertise, is among 21 UK ventures shortlisted from 100 companies bidding for the £30m funding pot.

The final decision is expected to be announced in April.

Dr Percy, who is a double Olympic gold medallist and multiple world sailing champion, said: “I think it's just a fantastic opportunity for central government to get behind a real new, real growth industry here in Belfast.

“This region has done it in a world class way with aircraft wings and we are basically coupling that technology for maritime.

“The real gain of the hydrofoils is a fuel saving and a drag reduction of about 90 per-cent and that is unheard of and transformative in any transport.”

The technology could be used in boats to transport up to 300 or 400 passengers, but it will have a range limitation unsuited to cross-Atlantic voyages.

“To create these kind of things you need to develop a skilled supply chain and why there is strength in place here in Belfast is a lot to do with Bombardier, because of the wing construction here in composites.”

On Thursday, the company signalled its commitment to Belfast by donating a vessel used by Artemis Racing team in the America's Cup series, to the W5 science centre at the Odyssey.

The loaned 45-foot AC45 catamaran will form part of the £4.5m redevelopment of the W5, set to be unveiled on March 6 2020.

“It is the very same foiling technology contained within the AC45 that we are currently harnessing to design and develop the next wave in commercial craft that will deliver zero-emissions vessels – right here in Belfast,” said Dr Percy.

Adrian Doyle from the Odyssey Trust, added: “The 45-foot vessel will be suspended from the ceiling of our ‘Move it' zone and provide an impressive centrepiece to an exhibition area that will explore real-life engineering challenges in the motorsport and transport industries.

“The collaboration with Artemis Technologies is a perfect fit for The Odyssey Trust and provides a reminder of the rich maritime heritage of our city while also pointing towards an exciting new future in which Belfast will once again be a world leader in advancing new technologies.”

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