On a mission to protect marine biodiversity and combat climate change, the innovative team at CleanSubSea has developed a unique, new, in-water hull cleaning technology for the maritime, oil and gas, and defence sectors.
Based in Perth, Western Australia, the company’s Envirocart™ system fully cleans, captures, contains, and filters biofouling matter that has built up on a vessel’s hull.
This prevents translocation of foreign marine species, stops toxic paint elements from impacting the marine environment, and enables the ship to move through water with far less friction which saves fuel and reduces emissions.
Now in the manufacturing stage, CleanSubSea utilised the Research & Development (R&D) tax incentive and sought RSM’s expertise to ensure cashflow during development.
Protecting our marine environment, one hull at a time
CleanSubSea is revolutionising the way governments allow, and commercial entities go about, cleaning the hulls of large vessels and in-water assets.
Hull cleaning has traditionally been performed by divers who scrub the hull’s surface and allow the biofouling matter and toxic paint particles to disperse into the sea. The hull can also be cleaned by taking the vessel out of water – however, due to the cost and time involved, cleaning becomes infrequent which slows the vessel, uses more fuel and generates more environmental pollution.
“Marine vessels produce some of the most pollutant emissions from transport in the world,” says Rory Anderson, Managing Director at CleanSubSea.
“What’s special about our technology is its multi-layered filtration system. Cleaning is non-abrasive so the hull’s paint isn’t damaged, and the filtered water is discharged back into the ocean in real-time with no negative impacts on the marine environment.
“When the hull is clean, it moves through the water more efficiently and burns less fuel. This means less fuel costs and fewer emissions.”
Staying afloat with the help of the R&D tax incentive
CleanSubSea built and tested multiple prototypes of their Envirocart™ system over a 6-year period – an undertaking that Rory says was made partly possible due to the Research and Development (R&D) tax incentive.
“Over the years we have refined every aspect of the system and tested it on commercial and navy vessels. It was initially diver-driven but can now be operated entirely remotely. This is a lot safer because divers don’t need to be in the water, and we’ve added several integrated niche area cleaning tools which make it possible to get to very hard-to-reach places and maintain complete capture, containment, and filtration cleaning.”
When the CleanSubSea team realised the complexities of the R&D tax incentive, they reached out to RSM.
“We looked at a few companies but were impressed by the level of expertise we saw in RSM. We’ve been approached by several companies to assist with R&D since then but haven’t considered changing as we’ve found RSM’s team very good to work with.
“The relationship is now in its sixth year, and they’ve been with us from development through to commercialisation. We’re now seeing a lot of interest in the system and are really looking forward to scaling up.”
Clear sailing into the future
It was difficult to take their product to market during COVID, but CleanSubSea has experienced impressive progress over the past 12 months.
“Industry needs to address the issue of hull cleaning and its environmental impacts, and increasing regulation is certain to focus stakeholders’ response,” says Rory. “Our solution is highly efficient and effective – whether it’s a simple grooming of a cruise ship or a full biosecurity clean.
“CleanSubSea is now very excited to be at the commercialisation tipping point of taking the technology and its proven in-water hull cleaning capabilities beyond R&D, prototyping, and trials, to scaling up manufacturing as it provides new real solutions to a worldwide pain point in the maritime sector.
“Developing new technology is a tough gig. You need to be determined and methodical. We’re grateful for the working relationship we have with RSM – they’ve been very collaborative and helpful, and we’re excited by what the future holds.”
Of working with CleanSubSea, Simon Harcombe (Principal in RSM’s R&D tax team), says “We have enjoyed working with CleanSubSea, Rory, and the team since its formation – discussing R&D tax requirements and developing an understanding of the technology.
“Our R&D tax team has diverse backgrounds from engineering to physics and environmental work, which enables a seamless and efficient process for an advanced manufacturing company with new technology. The provision of R&D tax services and other specific services, such as corporate finance, demonstrates the value of having RSM involved from an early stage and being able to meet changing requirements over time.
“CleanSubSea is a great example of an advanced manufacturer and technology developer emerging from Western Australia, and the economic diversity that can be achieved with the appropriate government support. We are looking forward to watching their continued journey to a large-scale manufacturing commercial success.”
“RSM’s team is very thorough and makes sure the company’s interests are protected. They take the time to learn your business to ensure they can support you effectively.”
For more information
If you would like further information on how RSM can help with the R&D tax incentive, please contact your local R&D team.