£15m for UK undersea tech firms

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Rovco and Vaarst in Bristol, UK, have raised £15.2m (€18m, $20m) to expand the rollout of its undersea technology.  

Vaarst develops subsea 3D computer vision technologies with AI, supporting the offshore wind, wave & tidal, scientific, maritime security, and civils industries. Rovco develops undersea sensors systems and vehicles using the Vaarst technology for subsea surveys in offshore wind and oil field decommissioning.

The Series B round was led by Legal & General Capital  alongside the venture capital arm of the international energy company Equinor. Legal & General will invest £8.5m out of the £15.2m raise. Other participants include existing shareholder Foresight Group, and In-Q-Tel, strategic investor for the US intelligence and defence communities and allied nations.

“We have a number of unique technologies that can make a huge impact on how companies such as Legal & General or Equinor manage their marine infrastructure,” said Brian Allen, who is CEO at both Vaarst and Rovco. “This investment will help propel these solutions forward and bring real difference to the cost of energy production as the clean energy sector adopts AI and Autonomous solutions with Vaarst technology at its heart.”

Vaarst’s technology is designed to substantially lower the costs of subsea surveying. The cost of a single crewed service vessel working on a maritime asset can reach up to £10m per month, but the combination of Vaarst technology and Rovco systems can help to reduce this cost whilst speeding up processes.

The funds will be used to support globalisation into the US and Asia as well as increasing the presence across Europe. The existing customer base includes Spanish energy company Iberdrola and its SSE subsidiary, as well as Deepocean. Legal & General is seeking to support the expansion through its cleantech portfolio, identifying opportunities in the offshore wind sector, as well as in serving marine infrastructure, which comprises 10% of all global infrastructure.

“Our clean energy platform continues to grow, entering new sectors and supporting the growth of innovative new technologies. Rovco and Vaarst are exciting companies which will help further support the global energy transition by supporting the long term integrity of maritime assets, reducing costs, improving safety and speeding up processes,” said John Bromley, Head of Clean Energy at Legal & General Capital.;

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