Louth-based ocean data company Xocean, which uses uncrewed surface vessels to collect information, has secured €8 million in investment in a move that values the business at more than €100 million.
The start-up, founded by former OpenHydro chief executive, James Ives in 2017, provides data collection solutions such as environmental monitoring and seabed surveys.
Xocean, which has tripled revenue in each of the last two years, plans to use the new funding to increase headcount from more than 100 people to 350 over the next two years, as it increases the size of its fleet threefold to more than 60 vessels.
The company says its sea drones provide a safer, more cost-efficient and carbon neutral method for collecting ocean data than using traditional means. The company has worked with energy giants such as BP and the UK’s Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA), on a range of projects that include offshore windfarm developments.
Overall, Xocean has delivered more than 100 projects accumulating over 35,000 hours of operation.
Xocean, which secured €1.7 million in European Union grants earlier this year, previously raised €8 million in 2019 in a funding round with participants that included Enterprise Ireland, the Marine Institute Ireland and the Creative Destruction Lab.
The business said its vessels will enable it to displace the emission of one million tons of carbon within the next five years, while improving safety by avoiding over five million seafarer exposure hours.
"This really is a milestone for the business. 2021 has been a great year for Xocean with really strong revenues and financial performance. 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," said chief financial officer Karen May.
The latest investment has been led by VentureWave Capital's €100 million Impact Ireland fund, which is backed by the likes of Hollywood actor Liam Neeson and members of U2.
The fund, which is headed by Kieran McLoughlin, and co-founded by Alan Foy and Brian Martin, was established in June 2020 with a mission to back "tech for good" companies.
This is the fund’s third investment following a recent €3 million raise for Webdoctor and a €2 million funding round for Irish meal-kit delivery start-up, DropChef.
Mr Foy, VentureWave Capital chairman and managing partner, who previously led Blueface, is to join Xocean's board as a director.
“Xocean has world class technology that delivers an eco-friendly, safer and more intelligent way of addressing this need. With operations already across four continents, they are well positioned to capture a significant share of that growth,” said Mr Foy.
Other participants in the latest investment included existing Xocean shareholders Chris Huskilson of Creative Destruction Lab, Enterprise Ireland and a number of private investors in Ireland and Canada.