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Bristol’s Vaarst raises £15m for marine robots mapping offshore assets


Bristol-based marine robotics company Vaarst has closed a $20m (£15.2m) funding round, led by Legal & General Capital and Equinor.

Vaarst will use the Series B funding to continue developing its computer vision and data management technology. It will also expand into Austin, Texas, Tokyo, Japan and grow its presence in Europe.

The ocean robotics company’s technology includes “level 4” autonomous submarines that can capture and livestream 3D models of underwater assets, such as mooring chains or offshore windfarms.

Its products are used in offshore wind, wave and tidal, maritime security and civils industries.

“We’re delighted to have gained the support of some of the industry’s leading businesses and investors to help us execute on our vision – to change the way we conduct over the horizon robotic operations,” said Brian Allen, CEO, Vaarst.

“In doing so, we will not only help the marine industries become safer and more profitable, but will make the investment case for the energy transition more attractive, accelerating the journey to net zero.”

Vaarst’s sister company Rovco, which is based in Bristol and Edinburgh, will benefit from the funding round. Rovco is a data insight platform for the marine renewable and energy sectors.

Rovco’s data can be used for engineering decisions and maintenance. Its technology is used by Iberdrola, SSE and DeepOcean.

Previous investor Foresight Group made a further investment into Vaarst as part of the Series B round, alongside US intelligence and defence strategic investor In-Q-Tel Inc.

Legal & General Capital focuses on clean energy infrastructure investments that will result in lower carbon emissions.

“Rovco and Vaarst are exciting companies which will help further support the global energy transition by supporting the long-term integrity of maritime assets, reducing costs, improving safety and speeding up processes,” John Bromley, head of clean energy, Legal & General Capital.