Louth company Xocean raises €8m to expand ocean data tech

29 Sep 2021

From left: Brian Martin and Alan Foy of VentureWave, with James Ives and Karen May of Xocean. Image: Xocean

The company will use the funds to grow its fleet of USVs and expand its team to 350 employees in the next two years.

Irish marine robotics company Xocean has raised €8m in a Series A funding round to further roll out its ocean data collection technology.

Now valued at more than €100m, Xocean aims to reduce carbon emissions in the offshore industry with its uncrewed surface vessels (USVs) for collecting ocean data. It says that these vehicles use hybrid electrical power and emit 0.1pc of the carbon emissions of a conventional vessel.

Led by VentureWave Capital, the fresh funding round saw participation from existing investors Chris Huskilson and Enterprise Ireland as well as other private investors in Ireland and Canada.

The investment comes from VentureWave’s Impact Ireland fund that invests in high-growth companies with the potential to build technology that benefits society.

“Our mission is to deliver the data that powers the sustainable development of our oceans. Our aim is to do this in a safe, economic and ultra-low impact way,” Xocean founder and CEO James Ives said.

“Today we are delivering this for clients across a range of industries including the renewable energy sector and government agencies across the globe from North America to Europe to Asia-Pacific.”

Expansion plans

Xocean said the funding will help it accelerate growth and scale operations. Plans include expanding its current team of more than 100 employees to 350 in the next two years. It also plans to triple the size of its fleet to more than 60 USVs.

Chief financial officer Karen May hailed the investment as a milestone for Xocean and said that 2021 has been a “great year” for the company. “We look forward to investing the funds now to accelerate our market growth and retain our leadership position in this new and fast-growing industry.”

Xocean has completed more than 100 projects accounting for more than 35,000 hours of operation. About the size of a car and half its weight, Xocean’s USVs are fitted with robotic sensors that directly send ocean data via satellite at a lower cost than traditional research vessels. “If nobody needs to go offshore, that removes people from a potentially hazardous environment,” Ives told CNN earlier this month.

VentureWave chair Alan Foy described Xocean as “an eco-friendly, safer and more intelligent” way of meeting demands in an emerging market with “substantial growth forecast”.

“With operations already across four continents, they are well positioned to capture a significant share of that growth,” he added.

Founded in Louth in 2017, Xocean 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.

In May, Xocean received €1.7m in EU grant funding to bring more of its vessels to market.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic