Queen’s University spin-out raises £316,000 for marine surveying tech

6 May 2021

From left: Oisin Lappin of QUBIS, with Ruairí Gallagher and Jonathan Houghton of FjordStrong. Image: FjordStrong

The start-up will use the funding to develop its underwater surveying technology that could help conserve marine species.

FjordStrong, a spin-out from Queen’s University Belfast, has secured £316,000 in seed funding.

The investment round was led by QUBIS, the commercialisation arm of Queen’s University, along with a number of private investors.

FjordStrong is a marine biodiversity technology company that has developed an underwater survey system. This system, called Auto-release Baited Underwater Video, is designed to survey high conservation value species and protected marine areas.

It is also looking to tap into the growing requirement for environmentally conscious survey work by developing technology that has zero impact on biodiversity.

The start-up was founded in 2019 after taking part in Innovate UK’s programme to accelerate the commercialisation of research from universities across the UK.

It is now working with international NGOs and UK government agencies on projects supporting the conservation of critically endangered skates and rays.

FjordStrong is also working with Inland Fisheries Ireland and BlueWise (formerly SmartBay) in Galway to explore how marine renewable energy infrastructure can play a role in protecting vulnerable wildlife.

Ruairí Gallagher, a founding director and lead consultant at FjordStrong, said the recent funding will help the company develop video analysis and automation software.

“This has the capacity to transform the stakeholder engagement and decision processes among agencies focused on supporting marine biodiversity,” he added.

“With this system, we will provide client demonstrations where we see an interest in both the commercial and conservation sector.”

One of the company’s new backers is Irish angel investor and tech entrepreneur Mary McKenna.

“I invested in FjordStrong because the time is definitely right for innovations to come to the fore in combatting climate change and especially in protecting marine ecosystems,” she said.

“I love the fusion of patented engineering and smart software supported by years of research combined with a knowledgeable and can-do team. Great to see Northern Ireland leading the way.”

Sarah Harford was sub-editor of Silicon Republic