The young start-up company Ocean Access has taken a leap from the safe incubator at NTNU, and down to the quayside at Nyhavna, ready to speed up testing and development of their unique communication buoy.
– We are so excited to be here, says Andreas Mauritzen, CEO of Ocean Access, while giving us the “grand tour” of the newly renovated office at the port area at Nyhavna in Trondheim. Next door is the workshop where endless hours of screwing and tinkering await.
It’s barely two years since he and his co-founder and CTO Fredrik Lilleøkdal launched the idea of new ways of monitoring the world below the ocean surface during their master study at NTNU. Now the idea has turned into a company of six employees and brand-new offices seaside where several other start-ups and maritime tech companies also are located.
– This is just the right spot for a maritime start-up. We are closer to the sea, and it is possible to build up an even stronger environment in the area here, with technology companies and start-ups like us from the maritime industry. I think that kind of environment gives an important boost, Mauritzen says and explains:
– From day one of our journey, we have been dependent on talking to other companies, and experienced people from the industry who can give us advice and share their experience and expertise with us. We learn new things every day, and it has been extremely important for us to have people we can talk to. I think getting an environment around you with people who help each other is hugely important.
CTO Fredrik Lilleøkdal couldn’t agree more.
– Here at Nyhavna, we can reduce the time we used to spend getting out to sea. Instead of packing up the car and driving across town, you can wheel the equipment straight out to sea. It is a great value, he adds.
Remote ocean monitoring has been widely demanded in various maritime industries. With the current international situation and climate challenges in mind, their communication buoy is needed more than ever.
– We started out investigating monitoring solutions for early detection of leakages from subsea wells on the ocean floor. But we learned early that the largest challenge was to improve how these monitoring solutions could communicate between the seabed and shore. Under the ocean surface, you are isolated with no means to communicate. This challenge triggered the journey we now are on. We are aiming to develop a system collecting data from the seabed, and periodically going up to the surface to transfer the data to other devices back onshore, says Mauritzen.
The buoy can move up and down the water column and operate both subsea and on the ocean surface. By avoiding the toughest sea conditions, we can make remote operations more reliable and provide cost savings to meet the growing need for ocean data and digital operations in the scientific and offshore markets.
– We see many potential applications. The oil and gas industry is an interesting sector for this technology, and monitoring of sub-seabed CO2 storage may be another application area in the future. Ocean research under the marginal ice zone in the arctics may also be an area of use. We are becoming a company that develops buoys for different segments and areas of use, but with remote monitoring, data collection, and transfer of data from the ocean as the main services, Mauritzen explains and shares some final visions of the future.
– Knowing how little data we have from the ocean today, we believe this kind of monitoring will be an increasing need in the future, where big data and digitalization will be even more important, not only within the oil and gas sector but also within offshore wind, aquaculture, and climate studies, Mauritzen says.