An innovative UK/Midlands/Coventry company which is harnessing the power of ultrasound to clean up the seas has been given the royal seal of approval after being named as one of the first recipients of The King’s Awards for Enterprise.
Sonihull has been recognised in the International Trade category for its industry-leading technology which emits ultrasonic soundwaves to safely prevent marine algae, weeds and molluscs from colonising ocean-going vessels and structures like ships and wind farms.
Their technology also removes the need for toxic biocidal coatings which can contain chemicals and microplastics
Antifouling is an industry that is worth about $100 billion annually in the commercial shipping sector alone and Sonihull – which is based 100 miles from the sea – is making significant waves in the market, with its technology found on vessels in more than 70 countries and territories.
Its success has seen its turnover grow 40 per cent year-on-year, leading to an overseas expansion with new Abu Dhabi offices and laboratory in 2020, a USA office in Boston in 2022, and a Vancouver and EU base opening in 2023, with its UK headquarters rooted at Westwood Business Park in Coventry.
The awarding of the internationally-recognised King’s Awards for Enterprise is hoped to propel the marine technology firm further onto the global stage.
Now in its 57th year, the newly-renamed King’s Awards for Enterprise continues Queen Elizabeth’s legacy to recognise and promote outstanding achievements in the field of Innovation, International Trade, Sustainable Development and Promoting Opportunity (through social mobility).
Winners of The King’s Award for Enterprise were announced on Friday, April 21, and are invited to attend a Royal reception this summer.
Darren Rowlands, CEO of Sonihull, said: “It is a huge privilege and honour for Sonihull to be named as one of the first companies to receive the new King’s Awards for Enterprise.
“This is the single most prestigious award for UK business and it is particularly special to receive this acclaim from King Charles, who is well-known for championing climate action.
“Although we’re based in a landlocked city, Coventry has always been a hotbed for innovation and industry and we are proud to centre our operations in the place we call home.
“As a company, we have shown terrific growth over the past few years, particularly on the international scene where exports now account for more than 95 per cent of our business, with our innovation helping to change the green credentials of the maritime industry.”
Sonihull’s unique idea to harness the power of ultrasound spawned from a glass of Ouzo on a sun-sail holiday in Greece when founder Darren discussed how to safely tackle marine growth on boats with friends.
Its products are built to last with its first system installed in 2008 and still in operation today.
Now an industry leader, its Research and Development Centre & Operations Hub in Abu Dhabi is the only full-time laboratory in the world dedicated to ultrasonic antifouling for the maritime and other industries.
Currently, Sonihull operates on around 1 per cent of the world’s commercial vessels, but – if it was on every merchant vessel in the world – global ship emissions could be reduced by between 160 and 408 million tonnes of CO2 every year.
Darren added: “From an idea on holiday in Greece to winning The King’s Awards for Enterprise is some journey for us but it is a reflection of all of the hard work of our fantastic team and a dedicated client base which keeps on growing.
“As well as reducing maintenance costs by up to 90 per cent, Sonihull is helping to clean up the ocean by removing the need for traditional toxic biofouling methods such as biocide and copper and replacing it with an ultrasonic antifouling system which does not need biocides nor does it interfere with marine mammals.
“Talking about keeping the bottom of a boat clean isn’t sexy – it is a Cinderella – but we are incredibly proud to be leading the way in transforming how marine applications are approaching antifouling.”