London robotics startup Samudra Oceans has secured an £800,000 pre-seed funding round for its technology that aims to positively impact sea farming and the blue economy.
The round includes a £150,000 investment from British Design Fund.
The AI-powered static monitoring robots use sensors and cameras that enable farmers to actively monitor and predict their seaweed yield. They are designed to support the growth of sustainable seaweed farming by reducing unnecessary and costly boat trips and labour – something which can often far outweigh sale prices.
The funding will be used by the team to build more prototypes and deploy in more regions, as the company works on providing a global use case for its model. Currently active in the UK, with a project also underway in Jamaica, the CleanTech will soon be launching schemes in both India and Sri Lanka.
The company’s founders, Joyeeta Das and Alex Facey, were inspired with the idea for the business after recognising the huge potential of sea farming to help tackle the climate crisis and provide a sustainable, long-term food source. Seaweed alone is capable of capturing up to 20x more carbon than trees.
Having identified the need for automation within the subsea farming industry, the team set about developing a solution for reducing the high overheads and labour associated with sea farming. By reducing manual labour and boat fuel costs, Samudra’s solution enables farmers to grow beyond previous limits, while benefiting from economies of scale.
“We believe the ocean is central to solving the climate and nature emergency,” said Das. “Not only can seaweed capture up to 20x more carbon than terrestrial trees but when farmed responsibly it can also provide a sustainable food source and aid biodiversity, while empowering coastal economies.”
She added: “We’re delighted to have the backing of the British Design Fund and our other investors, as we look to use our technology to enable the scaling up of sea farming, positively impacting the blue economy and blue carbon assets.”
Samudra’s technology provides real-time data that is accessible on a farmer’s phone or tablet. The first iteration of the product can measure water temperature, salinity, and water turbidity, whilst AI and backend software translate the data onto a dashboard for farmers, providing insights and analysis on their crops.
The CleanTech is currently running a trial project in Cornwall focused on the growth of food grade seaweed and the impact of its technology on both yield and efficiency. A second project is also underway in Norfolk that is using the company’s state of the art technology to explore a model for the future of sea farming.
Damon Bonser, CEO, British Design Fund, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Samudra Oceans to our portfolio and look forward to working with the team, as they move forward with their innovative solutions. There is a really interesting startup scene building around blue carbon and Samudra has spotted a clear need that has the potential to make a big impact.”