Ocean data start-up Xocean secures €1.7m in EU funds

5 May 2021

Xocean's uncrewed surface vehicles being transported. Image: Xocean

The money will be used for further commercial expansion of the Louth company’s uncrewed surface vehicles for ocean data surveys.

Xocean, the Louth start-up building uncrewed vessels for collecting ocean data, has secured €1.7m in EU grant funding to bring more of its vessels to market.

The funding comes from Blue Economy Window, an EU programme funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and the Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency, or CINEA.

The programme has a €20m pot to invest in start-ups and initiatives that are focused on sustainable development of Europe’s ocean economy.

Xocean will use the funds to expand the commercial launch of its ‘uncrewed surface vessels’ (USVs), which are low-carbon vessels decked out with equipment for collecting ocean data without the need for people on board.

This means vessels can traverse into more dangerous waters for longer periods of time without putting anyone at risk. Operators control the vessels from a base onshore.

The start-up, founded in 2017, has operated in 14 countries on projects including offshore windfarm developments and seabed surveys. It has worked with energy giants such as BP and Equinor and with the public sector including the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency. It recently completed a survey for the Hornsea Project One windfarm off the coast of the UK using USVs.

According to the start-up, the funding will help in creating more than 1,000 direct and indirect jobs over the next three years through assisting in various projects. The company’s own headcount is 82.

“Our USV platform has demonstrated itself to be a safe, reliable and low-carbon solution for the collection of ocean data. This project will support our technology development and ready our business for large-scale market growth,” Xocean chief executive James Ives said.

Xocean raised €7.9m in funding in November 2019 from Enterprise Ireland, the Marine Institute Ireland and the Creative Destruction Lab. Shortly afterwards, it acquired a British data analytics and processing company called 4D Ocean.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin