PlayJam CEO Jasper Smith to build explorer yachts under the Arksen brand

Tech entrepreneur and investor Jasper Smith has entered the marine market with a new shipyard that will focus on semi-autonomous, hybrid explorer vessels designed to have minimal impact on the environment.

The fleet will be built at Wight Shipyard Co on the UK’s Isle of Wight and marketed under the Arksen brand.

Smith is best-known as a pioneer in the games and tech industry, having co-founded and developed a number of successful businesses in the digital media sector such as PlayJam, Fantastic Corp, Vala Capital, Optimistic, PlayStack and PlayWorks.

He is now looking to make a positive impact on the marine sector through technology, research, exploration and adventure.

“Having built a lot of businesses over the last 30 years and been lucky enough to have combined this with taking time out to embark on some great sailing and climbing adventures, I was surprised at how undeveloped the explorer yacht market really was,” Smith explains.

“I like the idea of creating a great tool for explorers and adventurers alike, and one that could be used for leisure, research or commercial purposes. I also wanted to ensure these vessels were built in the UK and that we focussed on re-investing into the British marine industry.”

Peter Morton, CEO of Wright Shipyard, says the new range of explorer yachts will fit perfectly alongside Wright’s high-speed ferry building operation. “Coupled with the quality of the interior fit-out that our sister company, SMS, has shown can do with the likes of Shemara and Alicia, we are confident to produce a world-class vessel.”

“We share similar values with Arksen, wanting to do business differently, so are delighted that we will build these forward-thinking explorer vessels with them,” he adds. “We expect Arksen to be a great boost for the Isle of Wight and will add to the £50m impact we have already had on the UK balance of trade.”

Arksen will be working with naval architects Humphreys Yacht Design and interior designer firm Design Unlimited. Tanya Brookfield has been appointed as executive director, bringing expertise from her previous roles as MD of Alex Thomson Racing, co-founder of Toe in the Water, and head of fundraising and communications at the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust.

Smith says his aim with Arksen is first and foremost to “develop exceptional products that are built with their full lifecycle in mind, from sourcing to recycling at end of life.

“My second is to work with our owner community to ensure that our fleet is used in part to drive a wider and deeper understanding of the ocean ecosystem through supporting scientists, film makers, artists and journalists and providing them with a platform via which they can craft and tell their stories,” he adds.

”I believe that this combined approach will not only make Arksen a good investment opportunity, but also allow our community to thrive and share in a common vision for a sustainable approach to a new wave of adventure, research and exploration.” 

Further details will be released at boot Düsseldorf later this month, when Arksen has its official launch.