Founded in 2016, Rovco is a Bristol-based global provider of advanced subsea robotics and integrated survey solutions for the offshore wind and oil field decommissioning sectors, with operational offices in both Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Rovco focuses on the use of perception, data and autonomy technology to modernise and further the growth of marine energy.
Subsea Balance of Plant (BoP) surveys are critical to maintaining offshore wind farms as they help operators assess the condition of their assets under the water, and beneath the seabed. However, current methods are time-consuming, expensive, and imprecise, requiring large crews and labour-intensive processes to capture the data and analyse large amounts of video footage, which can be prone to human error.
Rovco is leading the way in advanced 3D vision technologies applied subsea, utilising AUVs (Autonomous Underwater Vehicles) and ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicles). It created the revolutionary SubSLAM X2® – a subsea robotic system providing offshore wind owner/operators with sub-millimetre accuracy to view critical component performance against design, live true colour-scaled imagery and 3D asset digitisation, with no need for additional sensors or scale bars to fully enable subsea metrology. It lowers the cost of subsea inspections by up to 80%, helping OpEx budgets and driving positive impact on the levelised cost of energy.
In 2017, with a team of three and a £233k turnover, Rovco joined forces with ORE Catapult and secured an Innovate UK grant worth £160k, alongside £145k investment from Sustainable Ventures. Rovco was able to fine-tune its technology and started a 12-month research project (AUV3D), at ORE Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth.
The AUV3D project allowed Rovco to trial its SubSLAM X1 technology at our unique dry dock testing facility that features a replica seabed, allowing trials to be carried out in a controlled subsea environment with real-world seabed conditions. Imitating the conditions found at an offshore wind farm site boosts investor confidence in innovative solutions such as Rovco’s SubSLAM X1.
The AUV3D project continued testing with ORE Catapult which included using the dock facility for Rovco’s trials.
We also supported Rovco in securing further investment, including a second Innovate UK grant of £1.28m. Additionally, Rovco won the Offshore Wind Innovation Competition run by ORE Catapult that introduced the firm to ScottishPower Renewables. The company then secured a further £1m in private investment from a consortium that included the Green Angel Syndicate.
With ScottishPower Renewables now partnered with Rovco and ORE Catapult, the AUV3D project entered its second phase in December 2018. The project provided Rovco with continued access to our testing and validation centre in Blyth as well as our NOAH met mast, and a scaled foundation designed specifically for Rovco’s testing needs.
In early 2019, an investment led to the company having the capabilities to deliver a range of efficient, high-quality subsea solutions to improve data acquisition.
In November 2019, Rovco successfully completed its first ROV Inspection and 3D Modelling project at Galloper Offshore Wind Farm. Rovco inspected all 56 turbines – with 24-hour ROV operations provided over a 4-week period – to complete the baseline asset integrity survey for the wind farm.
At the end of 2019, Rovco had 45 members of staff and secured £10m worth of contracts over the financial year.
2021 and beyond
In 2021, Rovco expanded with a launch of its sister company, Vaarst, to scale up technologies for the wider industrial robotics market, reaching the current 90 members of staff.
In 2022, the business completed a successful series B raise, co-led by Legal & General Capital alongside Equinor Ventures, alongside other participants including existing shareholder Foresight Group, and In-Q-Tel. This saw £20.5m invested into Rovco and Vaarst.
With an estimated cumulative export revenue of £390m between 2023 and 2027, the company’s robotics expertise has made them the market leader in subsea technology. The company plans to create a further 64 highly-skilled jobs by 2027, and its expansion will bring UK supply chain benefit in advanced 3D vision technologies for the offshore wind and oil field decommissioning sectors. As part of its expansion, the company has also opened offices in both Edinburgh and Aberdeen, creating over 20 new jobs across Scotland.
Brian Allen, CEO of Rovco, said:
“We have worked with ORE Catapult on two different projects over two years, primarily using their dry dock facilities at Blyth. This has enabled crucial support for the development, demonstration and validation of our cutting-edge computer vision and intelligent data processing systems.
“The future of offshore renewables will be driven not just by autonomous robotics, but more generally by automated and intelligent systems analysing the data. Our unique technologies are making a real difference to how operators and asset owners manage their marine infrastructure, bringing dramatic improvements to safety, efficiency, reliability and performance across operations. This has only been made possible through the right testing evaluation and validation of our systems.”