A Lausanne-based start-up has secured private investor funding to boost the development of their products, including a high-tech submarine drone that will reduce fatalities in dangerous underwater operations.
EPFL spin-off Hydromea, which specialises in portable and autonomous robotics and wireless communication underwater, has raised undisclosed amount in convertible loans as part of a CHF1.4 million seed round.
Founded in 2014, the company has unique expertise across three underwater technology areas: navigation, high-speed wireless communication and autonomous robotics. This enables the small team to develop the world’s first tether-less underwater drone, the ExRay™ using IP generated over the last 10 years.
The ExRay™, the company’s flagship product, will replace a multi-person manned entry into dangerous, confined spaces filled with water, such as ballast water tanks on vessels, in the oil, gas and shipping industry. Removing a tether allows the drone to dive through intricate labyrinths without getting tangled. This technology will eliminate the need to enter these spaces, thereby increasing the safety of the operations, while reducing cost. The market for ballast tank inspections is estimated to be worth CHF 3 billion. Hydromea has received a letter of intent from one of the oil and gas super-majors to assist in the development and testing of the drone.
Felix Schill, CTO of Hydromea, said: “We are thrilled to receive support from like-minded entrepreneurs in our quest to make sea-based operations safe through the development of smart portable underwater robotics. Last year 23 people lost their lives in confined-space related incidents alone. This is 23 too many and we focus on our contribution to reduce this number to zero.”
He said the company has already built 7 autonomous vehicles that were used in 12 open-water campaigns in collaboration with EPFL. They have learned a lot along the way and developed a number of key components from scratch, one of which is patented. This knowledge will allow them to accelerate the development of ExRay™.
Marco Boella, co-founder of Lemoptix, who entered this round with other angel investors, said: “We are excited to invest in Hydromea because they are developing technology that will help the industry avoid confined space fatalities and improve the overall integrity of the vessels. Hydromea has already proven that it runs as a business with an experienced business CEO who has a razor-sharp focus on execution with products that work in exceptionally tough environments. Its unique underwater wireless communication technology is gathering adoption speed in the offshore energy industry that looks for solutions to remove people from hazardous offshore operations by 2025.”
This year Hydromea is on target to quadruple its revenues vs. last year from the sales of its technology and looks to triple again in 2020 before the ExRay™ drone is launched in the market in 2021. Selling into the same market vertical, this allows Hydromea to establish its name and network within the market prior to the launch of the ExRay™.
The investment funds will go into accelerating commercial availability of Hydromea’s existing products, growing their team and into further development of its underwater drone.
FOR MORE INFORMATION about Hydromea and the ExRay ™ or interviews with its executive team, contact Hydromea at firstname.lastname@example.org