With the emergence of the marine renewables a new industrial sector is forming in the Pays de la Loire. To accelerate the acquisition of skills among sub-contractors, the Neopolia business cluster has launched its Neolab co-development project. Three questions to Loïck Anger, Neopolia’s vice-president for the marine renewables.
What is Neopolia’s role and what is its place among the sector’s players in the marine renewables?
The ambition of the cluster is to encourage business collaboration, unifying strengths and skills to enhance diversification and business growth. The marine renewables are a new sector that represent an opportunity for new markets, and we have observed genuine engagement: of 185 Neopolia members, 110 are involved in the sector.*
What is the nature of the Neolab project?
A few months ago, we reached the view that the sub-contractors in the region’s marine renewables sector were insufficiently organized to be competitive and meet the increased workload anticipated in the coming years. The objective is therefore to harmonize the sector, as is the case in the aviation or car industries, getting everyone around the table with the objective of building a collective strategy for investment in plant and innovation. We need to consider mechanization, automation, shared purchasing, shared plant, engineers—and also to envisage investment in the infrastructure which the region lacks, such as automated welding robots, large-dimension paint shops, assembly halls with bridges, and so on.
Where are we right now in practical terms?
Neolab’s approach is first to understand, then to explain, and then act. We are currently in a study and consultation phase. By cataloging the industrial programmes of the major purchasers, we’ve estimated that the marine renewables market will be worth 200 million euros in the next five years, peaking between 2018 and 2020. We have therefore assembled twenty or so Neopolia members to consider these findings, and outline the necessary investment to capture a quarter of this market. We are now starting work on deployment scenarios together with a finance plan. A first round is planned for 2016-7, with limited investment. The ambition is then to increase the pace, notably with the construction of a “small Anemos” by participating sub-contractors.
*Neopolia was founded in 1999. Its marine renewables business cluster, Neopolia EMR, was its fifth cluster, founded in 2011.