Norwegian serial entrepreneur solving environmental problems on ships

Missing translationStavanger

The technology company Shipshave has developed a robot that removes algae, barnacles, and other uninvited hangers-on from hulls while the vessel is in motion.

“We believe hull maintenance should be cheap, easy, and not hinder the ship’s ordinary operations,” explains the founder and CEO of Shipshave, Rune Freyer.

Scraping hulls has traditionally been a very laborious and expensive job that has to be done by a third-party player, either onshore or while moored in port. What is removed is the hull fouling, the accumulated marine organisms that grow on hulls below the waterline.

“The methods that have been used until now require a ship to accumulate fouling over a longer period, which results in higher fuel consumption, marine environmental pollution, and increased costs for shipping companies,” explains Freyer.

With the new robot, you avoid having to build up large quantities of marine organisms before the hull can be cleaned.

The robot can be used on the vast majority of ships, although Shipshave’s robot is mainly intended for ships with a length of more than 150 metres. The equipment is easy to use, and with the help of the robot, a ship’s crew can clean the hull themselves. Shipping companies thereby save on the costs associated with both fuel consumption and the maintenance work itself.

Won the confidence of Innovation Norway

Innovation Norway’s support was important with respect to Shipshave being able to engage in this type of innovation, according to Freyer.

“A lot of people haven’t believed in my ideas until they have been proven to work. If you are involved in fundamental innovation, you are dependent on more patient investors than what you would find were you to raise funding in the open market. That is what we have received from Innovation Norway,” he says.

Another important factor for Shipshave’s success has been the good collaboration with a number of different shipping companies.

“It’s incredibly important to have the customers onside and I would particularly like to highlight the company Eramet. It has been very enthusiastic and allowed us to test our product on their chartered boats, and that has meant an incredible amount to us,” he says.

A proactive approach

Shipshave has received start-up loans and environmental technology grants from Innovation Norway. Sigurd Urdal, senior adviser at Innovation Norway, is impressed by the company, which he thinks has been very proactive in its approach to the market.

“Its great success has required hard work and a close dialogue with customers, who tested the equipment during development,” says Urdal.

He also explains that Innovation Norway was interested in the solution having an environmental upside.

“The product solves a specific and manageable environmental problem and they have succeeded in bringing it to market. It has people who are good at technology and people who know business. This is crucial for success,” he emphasises.

Expanding to Singapore

Today, Shipshave’s technology can clean any large ship. The company has also developed a new solution designed to complement the original robot in places where it could not reach.

“We have working prototypes, although we place a lot of weight on user-friendliness and want to ensure that the solution is 100 per cent good enough before we commercialise it,” explains Freyer.

At the same time as it is working hard on developing new technology, Shipshave has just expanded to Singapore. There, its first international employee will work based out of Innovation Norway’s shared premises for start-ups.

“Because of the maritime industry, Singapore is an extremely important location with respect to establishing yourself in international markets,” points out Urdal.

  • Startup loan
  • Grants for environmental technology
  • Advisory for international growth