In August 2022, the UN’s Sustainable Blue Economy Investment Forum saw governments, banks, and corporations gather at the UN Ocean Conference and commit to investing billions of dollars in the Blue Economy. (The Blue Economy can be defined as the exploitation, preservation, and regeneration of our oceans and their resources).
At Vala we have a keen interest in tracking technologies that restore marine health, make more responsible use of ocean resources, and fight climate change and we see a growing untapped potential in the Blue Economy.
This is a sub-sector that intersects with Cleantech, AI & Big Data, Agtech & Alt-Food, Transportation, and many others, the Blue Economy has ample room for innovation and opportunity for investors to both drive change and reap fair returns.
Subsea is key
Working subsea is a capability that is globally essential; we cannot leverage the multiple opportunities across the blue economy without being able to do it effectively. Whether it’s building scientific understanding of offshore habitats and restoring them to their natural balance, or supporting the transition to clean energy and defending the seabed infrastructure from bad actors, subsea working is integral.
But how? Using divers isn’t scalable because the depths required are too great, the duration underwater is too long, and there are many other safety issues to consider. And deploying ROVs (remote operated vehicles) from crewed shops comes with enormous financial costs of $50-100K per day and a huge carbon footprint of 50 Metric Tons per day.
The robots are coming
To solve these problems, HonuWorx have developed an innovative new solution, eliminating offshore crew and carbon footprint: Loggerhead is an all-electric mothership for worker robots who perform remote subsea inspection and maintenance. The robotic system means HonuWorx customers can drive down the costs of gathering the data required to inform decisions, as well as offering year-round services – because no matter what the weather conditions are on the surface, the system is unaffected.
Loggerhead can be deployed to enable scalability across the blue economy ranging from:
- Supporting the transition to clean energy
- Building understanding of offshore habitats
- Restoring subsea habitats to their natural balance
- Defending seabed infrastructure
HonuWorx’s software can integrate with off-the-shelf hardware and autonomy capabilities to deploy solutions that address a customer’s evolving needs. And the Cloud-Edge software architecture optimizes data flow over networks which are known for challenging bandwidth and over-the-horizon communications.
Loggerhead will initially be marketed to Subsea Field Service Companies seeking to compete for work in the growing UK and US offshore energy sector based on cost and environmental impact.
As ever with the companies in our portfolio, we first look to the team. HonuWorx’s founders have the energising mix of passion and in-depth technical experience that we at Vala look for in our investments.
- Lee Wilson (Co-Founder and CEO) – as Head of Subsea 7’s ROV and Autonomy Programme, Lee led the development of the world’s first commercial AUV capable of truly autonomous navigation and close inspection.
- Lucas Wissmann (Co-Founder) – has commercialised robotic technologies in automotive, marine and space industries. As Proposal Manager for Sikorsky-LM he led the successful tender for the $3.4B US Presidential Helicopter programme.
- Now a team of 9, HonuWorx have first hand experience in marine robotics and autonomy.
A sea of opportunity
The subsea sector is a particularly exciting one right now, both commercially and technically. As we transition to decarbonisation and embrace autonomous technology, it’s a time of momentous change – and opportunity; financial projections indicate that the global UUV (unmanned underwater vehicle) market will grow from US$2bn to more than US$4bn in the next five years.
Uncrewed, all-electric robotic systems developed by HonuWorx utilize clean sources of energy and represent the ONLY cost-effective and scalable approach for delivering robotic-based work subsea.
We’re delighted to welcome HonuWorx to the Vala family and look forward to supporting them through this next chapter. Be sure to watch this space for further updates on mission-driven teams building great businesses – we’re going to be backing quite a few.
Jonathan Spanos, Head of Venture Investment.