FjordStrong secures £316k for underwater surveying technology

FjordStrong, a marine biodiversity technology company, which formed as a spinout from Queen’s University Belfast has successfully closed a £316,000 seed funding round led by QUBIS.

By Claire Cartmill
Monday, 17th May 2021, 5:00 pm
Oisin Lappin, Corporate Finance Manager at QUBIS with Ruairí Gallagher, CEO and Ecological Consultant and Jonathan Houghton,  Marine policy and ecology advisor both from FjordStrong
Oisin Lappin, Corporate Finance Manager at QUBIS with Ruairí Gallagher, CEO and Ecological Consultant and Jonathan Houghton, Marine policy and ecology advisor both from FjordStrong

The commercialisation arm of Queen’s, QUBIS, will join and a number of private investors on the back of securing ‘Aid for Start up’ support from InnovateUK.

FjordStrong has developed a patented underwater survey system called Auto-release Baited Underwater Video (ABUV). This technology is non-destructive and non-invasive, designed for surveying high conservation value marine species (e.g. angel shark) and marine protected areas. Furthermore, the company’s ethos is to compliment the renewable energy sector’s green credentials by providing zero-impact biodiversity surveys.

The company was founded in 2019 after taking part in the Innovate UK ICURe (Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research) Programme, which accelerates the commercialisation of promising research ideas from Universities across the UK.

The company will capitalise on the growing requirement for environmentally-conscience survey work to support the green revolution. More specifically, FjordStrong has developed technology that has zero impact on the environment while providing more comprehensive, faster and more economical marine biodiversity assessments.

FjordStrong’s work addresses several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. These goals include supporting life under water by protecting biodiversity and delivering affordable and clean energy by expediting offshore development processes and providing appropriate monitoring techniques.

Currently, FjordStrong is engaged with international NGO’s and UK government agencies in projects supporting the conservation of critically endangered skates and rays. Likwise, in collaboration with Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), the company are working with BlueWise (previously SmartBay) in Galway to explore how marine renewable energy infrastructure can play a role in protecting our most vulnerable wildlife.

Ruairí Gallagher, a founding Director and Lead Consultant at FjordStron, said: “Thanks to this funding, we are developing state-of-the art video analysis and automation software which provides user-friendly, demonstrative and communicative footage. This has the capacity to transform the stakeholder engagement and decision processes among agencies focused on supporting marine biodiversity. With this system, we will provide client demonstrations where we see an interest in both the commercial and conservation sector.”

Oisin Lappin, Corporate Finance Manager at Qubis Lt, explained: “We are delighted to support the team at FjordStrong in their mission, borne from years of research in Queen’s University. The team are committed in their pursuit of protecting marine ecosystems and doing their part towards achieving the SDG goals in a sustainable way.”

Irish angel investor & tech entrepreneur Mary McKenn, added: “I invested in FjordStrong because the time is definitely right for innovations to come to the fore in combatting climate change and especially in protecting marine ecosystems. I love the fusion of patented engineering and smart software supported by years of research combined with a knowledgeable and can-do team. Great to see Northern Ireland leading the way.”

Jonathan Houghton, Senior Lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast and founding director at FjordStrong said: “Nature-based solutions like restoration and protection of marine habitats will both help us meet global decarbonisation goals and protect the lives and livelihoods of the three billion people who depend on marine biodiversity around the world.”

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