Cleantech venture capital pioneer Emerald Technology Ventures has invested into Sea Machines, a developer of autonomous control systems and advanced perception technology for maritime vessels.
This $12 million funding round, which was joined by Nabtesco Technology Ventures (NTV), Chevron Technology Ventures, Ingram Industries, RKKVC, Level 2 Ventures, and IMC Ventures, will help Sea Machines hone its technological edge and grow its market presence. This adds to a financing in 2023 led by the Geekdom Fund.
Boston-based Sea Machines Robotics is a global leader in autonomous piloting systems meant to help sea vessels navigate and operate with greater efficiency, productivity, and capability.
Its proprietary technology allows onboard computers to maintain precise control of vessel position, steering, and speed during a voyage, reroute as needed to avoid traffic and obstacles, and use streaming data to improve operations.
The startup also develops solutions for computer vision, remote command and control, and advanced data collection along shipping routes, among other applications.
Sea Machines’ innovations are helping it grab a share of the fast-growing market for autonomous shipping services, an increasingly important enabler of resilience for the maritime sector—itself the foundation of most global trade. One estimate pegs growth in the autonomous ships sector at 9.6 percent annually between 2022 and 2030.
Key considerations behind the shift toward autonomy include cost pressures, labor shortages, safety, fuel savings and greenhouse gas reductions. The latter is a particularly pressing concern for shipping, given the challenges of decarbonizing the sector—an area that Emerald is actively engaged in.
While clean fuels like hydrogen could potentially serve as a long-term catalyst for a greener industry, they will need to be paired with leaps in operational efficiency along the lines of Sea Machines’ solutions in order to help the sector achieve Paris Agreement-aligned emissions reductions.
Emerald has a robust track record funding startups that are pushing the envelope on industrial efficiency as a lever for achieving climate and sustainability goals.
Japan-based NTV is the venture arm of Nabtesco, a leader in industrial technology solutions, and is one of Emerald’s corporate venture capital-as-a-service clients. Under this arrangement, Emerald manages NTV’s deal flow and advises it on the best investments to match its needs and strategic priorities.