Underwater Robot Wins Innovation Project of the Year 2024

2. May 2024

Partners across the energy sector have created a new underwater robot that can save the offshore industry millions of kroner. The ACOMAR robot has now also won the Innovation Project of the Year award from Energy Cluster Denmark.

It is in many ways a fitting winner of Energy Cluster Denmark’s innovation award for 2024, which the energy cluster’s members have just voted for.

ACOMAR is a robot that can remove mussels and other marine fouling from offshore structures, which saves both time and money, reduces environmental impact, and minimizes risks.

At the same time, it is a project born from the Danish innovation model, with companies, universities, and the cluster organization jointly solving a specific challenge.

“ACOMAR is a prime example that with demanded innovation, driven by smart and innovative companies and business promotion funds, we can make a real difference and create measurable results,” says Glenda Napier, CEO of Energy Cluster Denmark:

“Right now, energy companies spend a three-digit million amount annually on removing marine fouling – just in the North Sea. The ACOMAR robot will reduce the costs of marine cleaning by 30-40 percent, thus making the overall price of green energy production significantly cheaper,” she says.

A Universal Solution

The ACOMAR project has won the Innovation Project of the Year award following a vote among all members of Energy Cluster Denmark. The partners received the award at the energy cluster’s annual meeting in Copenhagen. It is an example of how cross-industrial partnerships can solve specific challenges for the sector and how collaboration in innovation projects is developmental.

For instance, for the company SubC Partner, despite starting with project innovation in close collaboration with customers, the project allowed them to delve “a bit deeper,” as CEO Tonny Klein puts it:

“Partly, we provided a universal solution to a general problem across wind and oil/gas, which was unique for us, and partly, we had more time in the project, so we progressed further,” he says:

“The project is an example of how the university and the business sector can go into symbiosis. We have strengthened our collaboration with the university and have two PhD students who are with us for half a year – something we haven’t experienced before. At the same time, a dedicated underwater department has been developed at Aalborg University as a result of the project, which is of great importance for SubC Partner when we need to find qualified employees in the future,” says Tonny Klein.

Teaching Material and New Research Group

The close link to the industry is a cornerstone of the problem-based learning method the university works with. Says Associate Professor Jesper Liniger, who has also been part of ACOMAR:

“We want to contribute to solving an industrial, real-world challenge through applied research. In the ACOMAR project, we used known sensor technology and known algorithms, assembled in a new, innovative way. It is an optimal case for us,” he says.

In addition to serving as teaching material for 20-25 students, the ACOMAR project has created a research group in the field that is starting to gain international recognition:

“The opportunity to work with real data and specific problems has meant that we now have a research group of seven people solely working on underwater robots. This is directly derived from the project and the industry’s demand,” says Jesper Liniger.

Elevated Knowledge Level

For Sihm Højtryk, participating in the project has been developmental and educational:

“It has clearly elevated our knowledge level as a company to be involved. And it has changed our mentality. We have always been good at saying yes to challenges; now we also say yes to some of the bigger ones,” says owner Frank Sihm:

“We don’t usually have a daily relationship with universities. Now it’s something we see opportunities in, and we have, for instance, discussed other projects with DTU. We have also hired another engineer in the company to keep up with the tasks and challenges we face,” he says.


  • SubC Partner
  • Sihm Højtryk
  • Mati2ilt
  • Siemens
  • TOTAL E&P Danmark A/S
  • Aalborg University
  • EIVA
  • ECD

ACOMAR is supported by the Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program.

FACT: Collaboration Against Offshore Fouling

When marine fouling, mussels, and barnacles settle on offshore structures, it increases the load from the waves, which fatigues the material – whether it’s offshore wind turbine foundations or oil and gas installations.

Therefore, one must either manually remove the fouling, which is expensive and risky, or oversize the structures, which increases costs.

That was the starting point for what was called a “…new groundbreaking collaboration” when partners from offshore wind and oil/gas in 2017 at a hackathon in Energy Cluster Denmark took the first steps to develop a concept for inspection and combating marine fouling.

Since then, the collaboration has evolved into the EU Regional Fund project Marine Growth, which in turn led to further development in ACOMAR with support from EUDP.