7 start-ups with sights set on the seas

23 Apr 2020

Image: © Alex/Stock.adobe.com

This week, we take a look start-ups that are creating marine-focused solutions.

The ocean economy, estimated to be worth $24trn, plays host to many processes that are essential to modern life, and which we often take for granted. Though the world’s oceans are at risk of overfishing, pollution and the effects of the climate crisis, they are still the backbone of countless industries.

This week, we take a look at seven start-ups that are working with the ocean economy in different ways. This includes companies focusing on renewable energy, making sea rescue safer and offering insights for logistics and shipping companies.


Econcrete is an Israeli start-up that offers a suite of environmentally sensitive concrete solutions that can be used to protect coastlines. Founded in 2012 by Ido Sella and Shimrit Perkol-Finkel, the start-up has developed a proprietary bio-enhanced concrete.

Econcrete’s solution induces the formation of bio-habitats, while preserving the functional and structural properties of coastal concrete. The start-up’s goal is to harness natural processes for ecological enhancement to bridge the gap between development and sustainability.

In the category of design, Econcrete was recognised as one of Time magazine’s best inventions of 2019. While still working primarily with coastal infrastructure, the company is also looking at the area of bio-active concrete walls for residential and commercial properties.


ioCurrents is a Seattle-based start-up that wants to bring big data to the high seas. Founded in 2015 by Cosmo King and Bhaskar Bhattacharyya, the company’s platform provides data analytics to maritime vessels through two main components.

Its MarineInsights platform includes an onboard mini-computer that collects and analyses data locally, and a remote analytics cloud platform. It collects data from equipment with digital interfaces, including Z-drives, transmissions, fuel and water tanks, winches and programmable logic controllers.

To date the company has raised $6.4m, with the help of a $5m Series A round that closed in March 2019, with investment from Imagen Capital Partners and Bellingham Angel Investors, among others.

Nautix Technologies

Nautix is a SaaS start-up for the seas. Co-founded by Tarang Valecha, Shantanu Mishra and Vishwas Tomar, the company is led by tech professionals who have previously worked as deck officers, engineers, superintendents and software innovation managers.

The Denmark-based start-up has developed a task management application to manage high-risk operations on ships to standardise operations and encourage structured safety. The company’s SaaS solution for manual processes on ships aims to free up time for crews to enable them to focus on operational performance, minimising human error.

Nautix wants to contribute to the digitisation of the maritime industry by helping ships work without paper and by integrating manual workflows used by crew on ships and managers on shore.

Orca AI

Orca AI’s main goal is to prevent marine collisions by using AI to reduce human error, which accounts for 75pc of collisions at sea, according to the start-up.

It uses AI and vision sensors to detect and identify possible obstructions, informing crew of the distance between the ship and a potential hazard.

The company was founded in 2018 by Yarden Gross and Dor Raviv, who run the start-up from Tel Aviv. Investors in the start-up include Ray Carriers, The Dock and MizMaa Ventures. The company raised $2.6m in a round that closed in January 2019.


Rovco is a Bristol-based start-up that uses autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) to create 3D hydrographic surveys using AI. With its underwater inspection technology, Rovco can film 4K video under water.

Founded by Brian Allen, Iain Wallace and Joseph Tidball in 2016, the start-up employs scientists in R&D to work alongside offshore teams and ensure the technology is suitable for client needs. The start-up’s aim is to deliver unique insights, while using autonomous vehicles to improve safety.

In the company’s latest funding round, which closed in January 2020, Rovco raised £5m. Investors include Foresight Group, Innovate UK, Bristol Private Equity Club, Green Angel Syndicate, Cambridge Angels Group, Martlet Capital and Sustainable Ventures.


Founded in 2012 by Dr Yi Chao, Seatrec is a renewable energy start-up based in California. It was set up to commercialise technology developed by Chao and his team at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Seatrec aims to harvest clean, renewable energy from naturally occurring environmental temperature differences in order to power scientific research, industry and defence in remote, off-grid locations both at sea and on shore.

In January 2020, the start-up closed its seed round, raising $970,000 from investors including Pasadena Angels, Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator Impact Fund and Tech Coast Angels.


Xocean is an Irish start-up that was set up in 2017. Based in Louth, the business is led by CEO James Ives. It runs a platform that gathers data for survey companies and other organisations, using unmanned surface vessels (USVs). Xocean’s platform operates 24/7, with the aim of accelerating project delivery at a lower cost than conventional methods.

Xocean gathers this data to support the sustainable economic growth of the ocean, as the global ocean economy is projected to double by 2030, despite the fact that 95pc of the world’s oceans remain unmapped. The firm has partnered with universities and research institutions, as well as surveyors and agencies.

In a funding round that closed in November 2019, Xocean secured €7.9m from investors including Enterprise Ireland, the Marine Institute Ireland and the Creative Destruction Lab.

Want stories like this and more direct to your inbox? Sign up for Tech Trends, Silicon Republic’s weekly digest of need-to-know tech news.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic