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Updated: May 23, 2022

Dutch cleantech startup to establish US headquarters in Portland

Images of boats and floating structures getting Finsulate treatment Courtesy / Finsulate Finsulate is the Dutch maker of an innovative antifouling wrap applied to the underside of vessels and floating structures.

After a year of Maine market research, Dutch cleantech startup Finsulate has decided to lay anchor in Portland as its U.S. headquarters.

The company, based in Hoofddorp, the Netherlands, is the maker of an antifouling technology for vessels and floating marine equipment. The technology was developed by entrepreneur Rik Breur.

Marketed as Finsulate, it's an eco-friendly adhesive wrap applied in sheets to the underside of the structure being treated, as a non-toxic, cost-effective and durable solution to antifouling paint. The treatment also cuts down on the time a vessel or piece of equipment needs to be out of water for maintenance, according to the company.

Breur's innovation was inspired by the spiny surfaces on animals including sea urchins and stops unwanted marine life from sticking to the surfaces of platforms and boats. He was honored by the European Patent Office in 2019 for his invention.

For Finsulate, the decision to establish a U.S. subsidiary in Portland, led by Bernard Hidier, comes after a year of membership in the New England Ocean Cluster and tenancy in its waterfront headquarters known as the Hus, where Hidier is based.

"We intend to maintain and grow our headquarters presence in Maine," Hidier told Mainebiz. "We have been a tenant of the New England Ocean Cluster since its launch, and have benefited from the tremendous support of its team and all of the members of its vibrant community. So it is only natural for us to purse this fruitful and stimulating collaboration as we move towards this new phase of the Finsulate adventure."

Putting a Maine spin on the company's next chapter, Hidier described it as "the way life should be."

Chris Cary, chief operating and marketing officer of the New England Ocean Cluster, welcomed the move.

"The product and story are incredibly exciting and has a proven impact on the environmental and economic implications of working at sea," he said. "I am thrilled for all that lies ahead."

Finsulate was one of the three Maine companies selected to participate last year in the competitive Cleantech Open Northeast accelerator. Hidier attributed that selection to receiving joint support from the Biddeford-based Environmental and Technology Council of Maine, or E2Tech, and the Maine Technology Institute.

"This is an E2Tech member that has done a good job focusing on an environmental issue, developing an innovative solution and commercializing a product based on that innovation," E2Tech Executive Director Marty Grohman said. "The potential market is very large. I wish them great success."

Busy week ahead

Finsulate is a finalist in the 2022 Top Gun Showcase business-pitch contest taking place this week. The company will compete against four other finalists for a $25,000 cash prize sponsored by the Maine Technology Institute.

Also this week, Finsulate will be bringing its European leadership team and installation experts to Maine to connect with industry and train waterfront employees in installing the company's proprietary antifouling wraps.

The first vessels will be treated at Yarmouth's Even Keel boatyard, a 12-acre property acquired last year by the Sea Meadow Marine Foundation, a Yarmouth-based nonprofit.

"We are pleased to be forming a new U.S. corporation with U.S. ownership and are committed to creating working waterfront jobs here in Maine," Hidier said. "In addition to leisure craft, Finsulate is prioritizing solutions for operators in aquaculture, commercial fishing and transportation, as these sectors are highly sensitive to fuel use and hungry for new ways to realize operational efficiencies."

Finsulate, founded in 2017, employs around 20 people in the Netherlands and six in France, according to Hidier.

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