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

Xocean, the Louth start-up building unmanned vessels for collecting ocean data, has secured €1.7m in EU grant funding to bring more of its vehicles 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 €20m pot invests 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 vessel’ (USV), which are low-carbon vessels decked out with equipment for collecting ocean data without the need for people on-board.

This means vessels can safely 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 like offshore wind farms and seabed surveys. It has worked with energy giants like BP and Equinor and the public sector including the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency. It recently completed a survey for the Hornsea Project One wind farm off the coast of the UK using USVs.

According to the start-up, the funding will help in creating more than a thousand direct and indirect jobs over the next three years through assisting in various projects. Its 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.

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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.

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