Subsea UK  has opened an R&D funding call, in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, for projects to help solve the industry’s most complex technological challenges. It forms part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the enterprise agency and Japanese philanthropic organisation, The Nippon Foundation, at SPE Offshore Europe in September.

The agreement aims to help both countries capitalise on opportunities in the growing subsea sector. The two parties will provide equal funding of around £15m to support projects between the two countries that maximise the use and development of digital technologies that “challenge conventional industry methods”.

The projects will address issues identified by industry, “capitalising on Scotland’s world renowned subsea engineering expertise to develop solutions that will push the boundaries and increase each country’s respective share of the sector,” said Scottish Enterprise in a statement.

Organisations are invited to show how their ideas, products and services meet the needs of the evolving subsea sector. Applications are being sought under the following themes:

  • Subsea digital oilfield technologies (real-time underwater communication, inspection, monitoring and control, subsea sensors, robotics and artificial intelligence)
  • Subsea oil and gas innovation (well productivity and intervention, well design, low-cost drilling, decommissioning, subsea factory, remote monetisation and challenging field development)

Companies can submit an expression of interest via the Subsea UK website by March next year with full proposal applications due by June.

Scottish Enterprise said the collaboration with Japan will contribute to the delivery of the Subsea Engineering Action Plan it launched earlier this year, with the aim capturing a bigger share of the £50billion global subsea market by Scottish companies.

“Scotland already accounts for 14% of the global subsea market, with approximately 370 companies generating an estimated annual turnover of £7.5 billion,” said Neil Gordon, chief executive of Subsea UK. “Our experience and reputation means we are ideally positioned to work with Scottish Enterprise and The Nippon Foundation supporting there ambitions for the sector.

“We have worked closely with Scottish Enterprise over the past three years to help nurture the relationship and build trust between Japan and Scotland. This has been achieved by supporting Scottish Enterprise and its international arm SDI on trade missions to Japan which included numerous high-profile meetings and presentations with key Japanese organisations including the Nippon Foundation.

“We are very much looking forward to strengthening these ties, working with the sector’s leading organisations to tackle the technological challenges to the benefit of the whole industry.”

David Rennie of Scottish Enterprise, added: “This is a major deal that will see Scotland and Japan work collaboratively to pioneer the technology needed to overcome even the most complex of challenges faced by the subsea industry, now and for decades to come.”