Syrenna – Monitoring the ocean’s health – ESA Commercialisation Gateway

Syrenna, a current incubate of ESA BIC Norway, has developed a new type of autonomous underwater vehicle called a “WaterDrone”, able to collect vast amounts of ocean data to monitor the health of its ecosystem. The team has successfully tested its WaterDrone in the Oslofjord, marking a major milestone for the ocean tech company. “The testing went extremely well”, said CTO and co-founder Prof. Alex Alcocer. “The WaterDrone worked as expected and we are now excited about adding more features and functionality to improve its robustness and durability. The vehicle is moored to the seabed and travels up and down the water column collecting data. When it’s on the surface it transmits the data via 4G/satellite connection to a secure cloud. Syrenna’s customers are then able to access the data, in real-time, via an easy to use data platform.” Syrenna’s WaterDrones are fitted with market-leading sensors that measure variables like underwater noise, temperature, dissolved oxygen and salinity. Alex adds: “Our WaterDrones can be fitted with almost any sensor on the market, meaning that we can tailor each drone to our client’s specific needs”.

Picture 1: Testing the WaterDrone in the Oslofjord. Photo credit: Syrenna.

The patent-pending technology is the culmination of a four-year research project led by Alex at Oslo Metropolitan University’s Oceanlab. Alex said: “During the course of the project, we realised that the technology we were developing had enormous potential in simplifying ocean data collection.”

Picture 2: Testing an early version of the WaterDrone in a tank at Oslo Metropolitan University’s Oceanlab. Photo credit: Charlotte Sverdrup Photography.

In 2022 Alex joined forces with Ester Strømmen and Becky Wightman, whom he met through the Antler programme, and co-founded Syrenna. Ester is currently the CEO and Becky is the COO. “There are not many female-led ocean tech startups in the ecosystem” Ester said. “So, we are proud to be among the trailblazers.” The team of four, which includes Head of Engineering Moustafa Elkolali who co-invented the solution with Alex, are now focusing on improving and testing the solution and building a healthy pipeline of customers.

Picture 3: The co-founders of Syrenna: (left to right) Alex Alcocer, Ester Strømmen and Becky Wightman. Photo credit: Syrenna.

Ester said: “There are so many possible uses for our WaterDrones – including monitoring critical subsea infrastructure such as pipelines and power cables, monitoring carbon dioxide levels in carbon capture, detecting and predicting harmful algal blooms in aquaculture, to name but a few.

For the time being, the team is focussing on their beachhead market – offshore wind. Ester added: “Syrenna is able to add real value through the whole lifecycle of each wind farm from gathering valuable data about the health of the ocean before the wind farm is constructed, during its operation and then latterly during decommissioning. We have received great support from lots of different organisations, including ESA BIC Norway, whose financial support has enabled us to advance the integration of satellite communication capabilities in the WaterDrone. To have the support and expertise of the European Space Agency has been an invaluable asset for our company.”