The North of Tyne Combined Authority has helped innovative North Tyneside business become one of the lead training providers for the offshore wind industry.
Rope access and industrial specialist services firm C&D Access used £150,000 from the North of Tyne to expand their business and win work nationally by offering new safety training and drone inspection services.
The grant, funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and supported by the North of Tyne Business Growth Fund (NTGF), paid for the refurbishment costs of a new larger premises at C&D’s North Tyneside base, which will be rebuilt to house the first confined space drone simulator in Europe.
Drone pilots trained in the simulator will experience situations that could present a risk when encountered in the work environment.
Simulations will include wind turbine inspections and the inspections of tanks, stacks, and wind turbine blade where the remote pilot cannot keep eye contact with the drone or unmanned ariel vehicle (UAV).
Pilots trained using the simulator will gain certification to work in the petrochemical, renewable, oil and gas mining industries.
C&D Access project manager Ana Gamarra said: “Our goal is to be the main training provider in the region for Dogger Bank, which will be the world’s largest offshore wind farm.
“We’ll be providing all the competences and trained personnel required, with not only the safety training but also non-destructive testing and rope access.”
C&D was established in 2014 to provide rope access as well as fabrication, maintenance and inspection services to the petrochemical, oil and gas, and wind industries.
Since then, the company has grown to gain service agreements and work on projects with significant clients in the offshore industry.
Mike Baker, Senior Project Manager for the North of Tyne Growth Fund at UMi, said: “When you see what NTGF support has enabled local businesses to do – the new or extended buildings, the factories that are now more fully equipped, with more people, and more activity going on – it’s really satisfying.
“These projects wouldn’t have gone ahead at the scale or in the timeframe they have without the programme’s support.
“The funding has given companies the confidence to take the leap and invest in their business, knowing that some of the risk is offset or a funding gap is bridged.
“And the long-term promise of these projects is huge – they have given companies more space to grow into, more kit to boost productivity, and more skilled people.
“All these things build the capacity that they need to deliver more products and services, win bigger contracts, widen their markets, or compete with international suppliers.”