Swedish electric boat motor startup Zparq, founded in 2020 to help develop an emissions-free rescue boat, has now completed a €2.5M (US$2.69M) financing round co-led by Santander and Almi Invest GreenTech. Current investor EIT InnoEnergy is also participating.
Santander is a Spanish multinational financial services company that is investing in ZPARQ through its Santander InnoEnergy Climate Fund arm. Almi Invest GreenTech has the mission to “back Swedish early-stage startups that significantly reduce green house gas emissions.” EIT InnoEnergy is co-funded by the European Union and was ranked by Pitchbook as the 2022 top global investor in the energy sector.
The reason they are getting behind Zparq is its patent pending open-pod technology describeds as “a motor completely immersed in water without encapsulation“. According to Zparq this enables “marine motors that are significantly smaller and more efficient compared to all alternatives on the market. The light design reduces raw material and CO2 footprint by more than 50% in the production phase, and the products are from start designed with a circular approach, thus reducing the environmental impact and climate footprint over their entire life cycle.”
Jonas Genchel, CEO of Zparq, says “Our scalable and modular technology has generated an overwhelming interest from boat manufacturers and ship builders globally, and we have customers within the complete range from small leisure boats to commercial vessels waiting for our powertrains.”
Genchel and his fellow co-founders first set out as a collaborative effort with Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), where the technology has been developed and tested since 2017 on underwater robots and small hydrofoiling vessels like the institute’s 2019 ‘Foilkart’ project. In tests with the Swedish Maritime Robotic Centre the Zparq Z10 (10kW) motor withstood pressures approximating those of 1000 meters under the sea.
Swedish electric boat motor successful tests
Their 50kW electric pod was successfully tested last June and holds great promise. In general, it is difficult to have motors with that kind of power operating underwater because the sheer size of the motors creates hydrodynamics issues. The Z50, though, is only 120 mm (4.75 inches) in diameter and weighs only 17 kg (37.5 lbs).
In addition to the motors, Zparq has developed the full operating infrastructure including battery packs, inverter, mobile app, remote throttle, joystick and monitoring/display unit.
“We are very happy to get Santander and Almi Invest GreenTech as new investors, says Genchel. “This provides us with the support required to finalize development of these first products. We are currently in pilot phase with several OEMs and boat builders who are testing our 10kW and 50kW motors. Our aim is to have several units operating in water by this summer and to be shipping to customers by the end of the year.”