HEFCE support for off-shore engineering centre

26 March 2013

Newcastle University is to lead a national centre for sub-sea and offshore engineering as part of a major drive to develop new materials and technologies to explore the world’s oceans. The centre will receive £3 million in HEFCE funding.

The Neptune National Centre for Sub-Sea and Offshore Engineering was unveiled today by Business Secretary Vince Cable as part of the Government's Oil and Gas Strategy. It will be the first of its kind in the UK, bringing together industry and academia to create a world-class engineering research facility.

The £7 million centre will receive £3 million from the HEFCE Catalyst Fund. It will develop technologies that can withstand one of the world’s harshest environments, and will be at the forefront of the quest to harness the ocean's potential as a source of food, energy and medicine. The project includes plans for Hyperbaric Chamber and Environmental Test facilities – capable of testing technologies and materials at temperatures and pressures equivalent to those found at the very deepest ocean depths.

Building on the region's maritime heritage and Newcastle University's expertise in marine engineering, the Neptune Centre will be developed on the north bank of the River Tyne. Supported by Newcastle City Council, it will be a centrepiece for the revival of this part of Tyneside, bringing with it jobs and investment.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

‘The UK's oil and gas sector is crucial to the economy, so we’ve worked closely with the sector on today’s industrial strategy. But its future success relies on the latest underpinning science and technology. This cutting edge new facility will help put our academic community and industry at the centre of sub-sea and offshore engineering research. It will drive up skills and develop the innovations needed to fuel growth in the North Sea.’

Project lead Professor Nick Wright, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation at Newcastle University, said:

‘The Neptune Centre will create a unique facility that will significantly enhance research capacity, not just at Newcastle University but in the UK as a whole – providing a focus for the development of both new technology and academic-industry relationships that underpin future growth.’

David Sweeney, HEFCE Director, Research, Innovation and Skills, said:

‘HEFCE investment combined with contributions from the university and the private sector will enable this important research centre to be created. The centre will make a significant long-term impact not only on research but also on skills and the economy.’

The Neptune Centre has the backing of leading UK companies through the Sub-sea North-East Consortium, including Shepherd Offshore, Bel Valves Group and SMD.

The HEFCE Catalyst Fund aims to deliver our strategic aims for higher education across research, teaching and knowledge exchange, particularly in supporting economic growth, and to encourage private sector investment that would otherwise not be available to higher education.

Page last updated 28 March 2013

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