KTN Innovation Exchange challenge - non-destructive testing of GRP marine vessels

The challenge owner operates a number of large marine vessels (ships) with hulls constructed from glass-fibre reinforced plastic (GRP). Hulls can be damaged as a result of collisions, abrasion, delamination of the GRP, blistering and other mechanisms. Current inspection methods are based around visual inspection and challenge owner seeks to identify technology to improve all aspects of hull inspection.

Opportunity Details


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Purchase of solution, possible investment

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KTN’s Innovation Exchange is working with a company operating a number of large marine vessels (ships) with hulls constructed from glass-fibre reinforced plastic (GRP).  GRP has many attributes that make it the material of choice for the manufacture of some ocean-going vessels. In the course of extended use, however, it is prone to damage. Where this is caused by impact, the damage may be visually evident, however damage is not always visible and what appears to be superficial marking may be underlain by structural damage.

Not all damage is caused by impact and a vessel’s integrity may be compromised by other defects caused by wear and age, such as abrasion (thinning, cracking), delamination and blistering due to water ingress.

Current inspection techniques are heavily reliant on experienced personnel visually checking the hull, along with rudimentary acoustic procedures. They cannot identify the severity of damage, only presence/absence.

In order to improve operational efficiency, increase the accuracy of detection and to minimise the resource required, the challenge holder is seeking an alternative method of inspection.

The challenge owner is actively looking for solutions that will;

  • Identify and record any damage that compromises or has potential to compromise the integrity of the hull
  • Include the facility to monitor changes in condition over time
  • Be portable by a single able-bodied person and ideally measure no more than 0.5 m in all dimensions
  • Not require highly-skilled operatives to use it
  • Produce information that is readily-interpreted by a non-specialist or in a form that can be easily shared with a specialist for remote analysis
  • Be able to differentiate degrees of severity of damage
  • Be usable in confined spaces inside the hull where access may be restricted
  • Ideally be waterproof for use on the outside of the hull (nice-to-have)

The challenge owner will not consider solutions that involve:

  • Cloud-hosted data capture
  • Equipment that is not easily transported
  • Lengthy development programmes

Rewards and benefits
Successful applicants will be given an opportunity to pitch to the challenger. The package may also include:

  • Support from the Catapult networks and KTN
  • Support in the development of a prototype or pilot
  • Technical support
  • Invitation to attend or present at KTN or Catapult events
  • A potential business collaboration
  • Investor introductions (if investment is required)


If you have a solution to this challenge, visit the Innovation Exchange site to find out more and apply here.

Related programme

Innovation Exchange

Innovation Exchange

Innovate UK Innovation Exchange is a cross-sector programme supporting innovation transfer by matching industry challenges to innovative companies from other sectors. It does this by putting large businesses with technical needs in contact with companies who have the right innovative solutions, for faster development of novel solutions.


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