Fishing for innovation: free MARIN tank time
WAGENINGEN – In an unusual gesture, the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands, the world’s largest independent maritime testing institute, will offer a total of 480 hours a year of free tank time to small and medium-sized companies that have innovative ideas in boat design and manufacture. The offer is open to SMEs worldwide but Dutch companies have priority.
The initiative includes the services of a qualified testing engineer and represents a value of €40,000 ($54,200) per client. The initiative is designed to stimulate innovation in the Dutch maritime and yacht building sectors and lower the threshold for small and medium-sized companies to test new ideas and concepts. “We want to give them an extra push,” says Enrico Della Valentina, MARIN’s yacht market coordinator.
MARIN Director Bas Buchner says he wants SMEs to be able “to test a new maritime concept to see if it works, to improve on it or to show it.” Twice a year, MARIN will issue a call for 3 projects. The first call goes out December 1, 2013. Candidates must provide a brief description of their concept and the test they want to conduct. MARIN will pick the most innovative, promising concepts. It will consider only new ideas and concepts. “We have modern facilities and are by now the world’s largest independent maritime testing institute,” says Buchner. “We work for large ship owners, shipyards and energy companies. We would like our facilities and experience to benefit Dutch maritime SMEs.”
MARIN has long been a major factor in Dutch yacht and ship design and building. When in 1983, challenger Australia II won the America’s Cup, it did so with a revolutionary ‘wing keel,’ designed by Dutch naval architect Piet van Oossanen (photo below) and tested at a MARIN basin. This year, a Dutch company launched the stern-mounted O-foil propulsion system for inland cargo ships based on scale model testing at MARIN. A horizontal wing that oscillates up and down like a dolphin tail, it produces speed more efficiently than a prop making fuel savings of 50%.
MARIN is open to both the maritime sector and yacht builders. Della Valentina attended the 2013 Monaco Yacht Show to explain the free tank-testing initiative. “The free tank time we offer is about innovation. We don’t care which sector approaches us. We are neutral on that.” Yacht builders account for about 10 to 15% of MARIN’s business. In that group, half are Dutch companies. MARIN employs about 350 people and has an annual turnover of about €42 million ($57 million).
Each of the 6 projects selected annually for free testing will get 2 weeks of tank time in MARIN’s Concept Basin that’s 220m long, 4m wide and deep. The offer comes with the services of an experienced experimenter and a one-day workshop led by an experienced MARIN project leader and engineer to discuss the concept, the best approach to testing and necessary support. MARIN will keep test results confidential. The test results will belong to the company that was selected.