Development & Alumni Relations Office 



QUEEN’S SPIN-OUT COMPANY RAISES £316,000 FOR MARINE SURVEYING TECHNOLOGY  Three men standing in front of red-bricked building in H&W Shipyard in Belfast, with blue sky background

10 May 2021

As reported last week by Sarah Harford in Silicon Republic, Queen’s University spin-out company Fjordstrong has secured £316k in seed funding to develop innovative underwater surveying technology that will help conserve vulnerable marine species.

The marine biodiversity technology company successfully closed a funding round led by QUBIS Ltd, the commercialisation arm of Queen’s and a number of private investors, on the back of securing ‘Aid for Start-up’ support from InnovateUK.

Fjordstrong, which is based at Queen’s Marine Laboratory in Portaferry on the shores of Strangford Lough, has developed a patented zero-impact biodiversity underwater survey system called Auto-release Baited Underwater Video (ABUV), designed to survey high conservation value species and protected marine areas.

The start-up was founded in 2019 after taking part in Innovate UK’s programme to accelerate the commercialisation of research from universities across the UK. It is now engaged with international NGO’s and UK government agencies on projects supporting the conservation of critically endangered skates and rays. Additionally, and in collaboration with Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), Fjordstrong is now working with BlueWise (previously SmartBay) in Galway to explore how marine renewable energy infrastructure can play a role in protecting our most vulnerable wildlife.

Ruairí Gallagher, a founding Director and Lead Consultant at FjordStrong commented: 

“Thanks to this funding, we are developing state-of-the art video analysis and automation software which provides user-friendly, demonstrative and communicative footage. This has the capacity to transform the stakeholder engagement and decision processes among agencies focused on supporting marine biodiversity.

“With this system, we will provide client demonstrations where we see an interest in both the commercial and conservation sector.”

Oisin Lappin, Corporate Finance Manager at Qubis Ltd said:

“We are delighted to support the team at FjordStrong in their mission, borne from years of research in Queen’s University. The team are committed in their pursuit of protecting marine ecosystems and doing their part towards achieving the SDG goals in a sustainable way.”

Irish angel investor and tech entrepreneur Mary McKenna said: 

“I invested in FjordStrong because the time is definitely right for innovations to come to the fore in combatting climate change and especially in protecting marine ecosystems.

“I love the fusion of patented engineering and smart software supported by years of research combined with a knowledgeable and can-do team. Great to see Northern Ireland leading the way.”

Jonathan Houghton, Senior Lecturer at Queen’s and founding director at FjordStrong said:

“Nature-based solutions like restoration and protection of marine habitats will both help us meet global decarbonisation goals and protect the lives and livelihoods of the three billion people who depend on marine biodiversity around the world.”

FjordStrong’s work addresses several Sustainable Development Goals adopted by United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet – including protecting biodiversity – and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.

For more on the work of QUBIS Ltd visit: https://www.qubis.co.uk/

For general enquiries about this story, or to submit graduate news items, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen's University Belfast.

Caption (L-R): Oisin Lappin – Corporate Finance Manager at QUBIS; Ruairí Gallagher – CEO and Ecological Consultant at FjordStrong; Jonathan Houghton – Marine policy and ecology advisor at FjordStrong. Image credit: QUBIS Ltd.

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