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PortXL - Dragons Den meets Eurovision

Updated: Jul 5


Our PortXL journey may have ended last week, but we achieved what we set out to do.


Of thousands of startups who were scouted, and 118 who were selected to attend validation calls, only 10 were invited to the PortXL Selection Days.


ACUA Ocean was proud to be one of those.


From the outset, we’d targeted an invite for the Selection Days as our primary objective - meeting and pitching to over 25 industry experts across nine 30-min pitch sessions in a single day.


Recreating the atmosphere of an in-person showcase event is always tough in our current virtual world but the PortXL team delivered an enjoyable few days. From glossy intro videos, to a live walk around the studio, as well as smiling participants from 15 different countries there was more than a passing reference to the Eurovision song contest, which was also hosted in Rotterdam earlier this year.



But once things got down to business the most impressive aspect of PortXL was the quality and relevance of the partner panels. Over the course of a single day, we delivered nine pitches of 5 mins followed by 20 minutes of Q&A with the experts from partners including Shell, Boskalis, Van Oord, and the Port of Rotterdam.


The questions were probing and insightful. We received an almost unanimously positive response to the unique capabilities of our vessel design and huge market opportunity. There were also questions around the regulation of autonomous vessels and the logistical challenges of working with hydrogen. These focus points reinforced the fact that we are working with emerging technologies and that market education and validation are still critical.


Valuable connections were made by the whole team, and we’ve secured numerous follow-up calls for over the next couple of weeks, and a number of offers for future support when the prototype is complete.



Whilst we’d love to have been selected for the final stage, with Covid-19 and our focus on the prototype build, a September move to Rotterdam was always going to be a hard squeeze. Ultimately we achieved exactly what we set out to do; connecting with exceptional industry leader. A massive thank you to the ACUA Ocean team, everyone at PortXL, and to all the partners, panelists, and experts we met. We look forward to our meetings over the next few weeks and to welcoming you all on the ACUA Ocean journey.