Belfast’s green Greek goddess

A computer generated image showcasing one of the company's models. Credit: Artemis Technologies

Artemis was the Greek goddess of hunting.

A technology company bearing her name has spent the last few years hunting down a massive multi-million investment to start building green energy ferries in Belfast.

The hunt has paid off. Artemis Technologies has secured a £33m government grant for its project, with a further £30m investment promised from other organisations and businesses in Northern Ireland.

The firm says the £63m project will create 125 jobs in Belfast in the beginning, with a further 1,000 jobs promised in the next 10 years.

Artemis Technologies is led by double Olympic gold medallist Iain Percy OBE. Credit: Artemis Technologies

At the helm of Artemis Technologies is double Olympic gold medallist sailor Iain Percy. I met him when he first launched the project in Belfast in October in 2018.

That day, some journalists were invited onto a boat at Belfast Harbour to venture out on the water to watch a high-tech yacht that uses some of the green technology the firm is now hoping to harness for ferry building.

Iain Percy spoke with passion about his plan to use electro hydrofoil propulsion - a technology he experienced in the world famous sailing competition the America’s Cup to build zero emissions ferries in Belfast.

His firm decided to base themselves in Belfast to tap into the expertise already at hand in the economy and to rekindle the city’s maritime history by resurrecting shipbuilding.

The yacht we witnessed in the open water in 2018 was truly impressive for anyone who doesn’t follow sailing. It was certainly like nothing I had ever seen before.

It moved with such speed, rising out of the water on fins, making a distinct but not dislikeable whirr as it glided across the waves.

It used wind and electricity to power itself. The whole presentation was impressive and inspiring, as was the idea that the same technology could power passenger ferries built by people in Northern Ireland.

Artemis Technologies say its concept for an electric hydrofoil propulsion system is totally unique. Credit: Artemis Technologies

But as ever, money was needed.

From the start, Artemis Technologies has had the support of Belfast Harbour, Belfast City Council, Bombardier, and the local universities to name a few.

There are now 13 local partner organisations signed up to the project. But securing the £33m government grant brings this whole thing to life.

So amid job loss announcements and worry for everyone about the future of the economy, Friday's news brings some green shoots, or certainly a green goddess of hope.

Artemis was also the goddess of childbirth.

Let’s hope this really is shipbuilding reborn.