Westinghouse Opens Nuclear Innovation Effort in Belgium

The firm offers technical support and funding to European developers of innovative nuclear reactor designs

Westinghouse Electric Company announced this week in Brussels, Belgium, that it has created a new way for innovators to advance nuclear energy technology through collaboration with Westinghouse and its global network of leading technical experts.

The initiative, named WeLink, will provide funding support, office space and technical tools for individuals and teams to develop promising concepts that can accelerate innovation across the industry.

“Through WeLink, Westinghouse will enable and empower innovators to develop future technologies for safer, cleaner and more reliable nuclear applications,” said Cindy Pezze, Westinghouse’s chief technology officer.

“We want to encourage new ideas and thinking that will help to ensure the continued global growth of nuclear energy and its carbon-free benefits.”

With an initial focus on collaboration in Europe, the WeLink accelerator will seek connections in support of entrepreneurs, startups, and small- and medium-sized enterprises with innovative ideas for nuclear technologies.

Innovators can apply to participate in the WeLink accelerator through the program’s website. Priority areas for collaboration include

  • big data; operations, maintenance,
  • dismantling and inspection;
  • robotics and drones; and
  • advanced reactor technologies.

Ideas outside of these areas also can be submitted for consideration. The first application period will run through Dec. 19; subsequent application periods will be announced on the website.

Proposals will be reviewed by a Westinghouse selection committee. Teams that are selected for investment will establish a presence at Westinghouse’s Nivelles, Belgium, operations to work with Westinghouse technical and business experts. The selected groups also will have access to technology resources to appropriately support the development of their projects.

Unanswered Questions

There are a lot of unanswered questions about how the innovation program will work. An email inquiry to the firm’s press contact for the news release was not answered last week.

The first problem is this – where is the program’s website? A search on Google for Welink turns up dozens if not hundreds of websites with this name in their URLs. However, if you search on the string “welink nuclear” the website pops right up. Maybe next time the firm will do a trademark search before naming an interesting program  http://www.westinghousenuclear.com/welink

In my email to the firm I asked the following questions which were not replied to by the end of this week.

  • Will Westinghouse provide cost sharing on projects or provide direct financial support or only technical assistance?
  • Will Westinghouse take an equity position in any advanced reactor project in return for its assistance?
  • Is Westinghouse looking for partners for any of its existing advanced nuclear projects such as its 225 MW SMR or its lead cooled conceptual reactors design?
  • Will any of the partnerships be aligned with the Westinghouse effort to compete in the UK SMR funding program?

It turns out the firm does have an FAQ section on its website so readers are referred to it for further information.  http://www.westinghousenuclear.com/welink/FAQs 

The application period opened on October 24 and closes December 19. Your firm must already be doing business in one of the European Union countries to qualify.

So why isn’t Westinghouse doing this program in the US which is a hotbed of advanced reactor startups?

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