MicroWISE is a company developing equipment for accurately measuring living organisms in water-samples. Our patented technology is currently available in the form of BallastWISE, a portable ballast water test instrument used worldwide. Users of BallastWISE have been approved by all the major classification societies. We make continuous efforts to improving our technology, with a keen eye for innovation and the changing needs of our customers.

Our company consists of a varied group of people all bringing their know-how and skills from their respective field. This gives MicroWISE considerable expertise within both microbial ecology and taxonomy, camera technology, optics and software development. Learn more about several members of our team below.


Our story begins 15 years before founding MicroWISE… Pia Haecky and Nick Blackburn had founded the company BIORAS – where they achieved success with a software solution for motion analysis and counting organisms: LabTrack, frequently used in research for zooplankton analysis.

One day, a customer asked if they could use LabTrack’s methods to test ballast water… Upon hearing about the need for compliance testing on ships to reduce the spread of invasive species, Pia Haecky and Nick Blackburn got to work on developing a new solution. They used LabTrack software as the basis for what would become the BallastWISE Analysis Suite.

In 2013, the MicroWISE team was formed, consisting of Per Ove Poulsen (hardware and camera technology), Kirsten Engell Sørensen (expertise within phytoplankton and zooplankton monitoring and taxonomy), Nick Blackburn (software development) and Pia Haecky (microbiology). The same year, the team began a project supported by the Danish Maritime Fund, to develop a ballast water test system for counting organisms ≥ 50 µm in size, as there were few methods available for testing this fraction apart from manual microscopy. Thereafter the team received funds from MUDP for further developing the solution to test for the smaller fraction, 10-50 µm in size, using fluorescence – so the BallastWISE test instrument could become the complete solution it is today.

Since the very beginning, MicroWISE has engaged industry and research partners to develop solutions that live up to the standards the industry calls for. For example, we have engaged in projects with DHI, one of the world’s key accredited institutions with regards to ballast water issues, since the very first project in 2013, as they already had a ballast water test centre to assist in testing our solutions.

In 2017, MicroWISE was officially founded, with the BallastWISE portable test instrument being our main product.

Regulations increasing demand

The BWM Convention entered into force on 8 September 2017. In 2024, all ships must meet the D2 standard. These requirements have made Compliance Monitoring Devices (CMD) which test for the requirements defined in the D2 standards, such as BallastWISE, a necessary piece of equipment for the maritime industry, both for commissioning test service providers and port state control.

Automated inline ballast water testing to prevent errors and delays

Reviews of ballast water compliance tests have shown that the main causes of failed ballast water compliance tests are manual errors, therefore regularly monitoring the efficacy of ballast water treatment systems (BWTS) onboard ships can be a great help in catching such errors early enough to avoid failed tests causing delays in port.


Pia Haecky

CEO of MicroWISE, holds a PhD in marine microbial ecology (systems of microbial organisms in natural marine environments). While steering the course of MicroWISE, she draws on her extensive experience with both research and industry, as well as her many years of participation in international collaborations for preventing the spread of marine invasive species such as BEMA and IMO’s GloFouling project for UNESCO. Member of Danish Industry Association and the Danish Maritime Association.

Nick Blackburn

Co-founder and head of software development at MicroWISE, holds a PhD in microbial ecology and a MSc in Physics and Computer Science. His expertise lies within image analysis and multimedia development, with which he ensures optimal functionality during development and continual improvement of MicroWISE’s solutions. Member of Danish Industry Association and the Danish Maritime Association.

Kirsten Engell-Sørensen

Board member and co-founder of MicroWISE, holds a MSc in Marine Biology and has decades of experience within environmental surveillance, specialising in plankton, and engaging in industry and applied research. She provides our team with her significant knowledge of the ecology and dynamics of plankton, thereby assuring the quality of BallastWISE ballast water testing.

Morten Eskildsen

Cybersecurity specialist, holds a MSc in Computer Science and is a consultant for several leading technology companies. As part of the MicroWISE team, he ensures secure interaction and data storage with BallastWISE Analysis Suite software. His work also includes development of the BallastWISE cloud platform.

Sarafina McPherson Kimø

Communications editor, BSc in Nanobioscience with a Masters in Journalism, specialises in maritime industry technology. She creates training and marketing content about MicroWISE’s technologies to ensure customer support and dissemination of our knowledge on ballast water testing.

The development of BallastWISE has been supported by The Danish Maritime Fund, The Danish Innovation Fund, The Danish Market Development Fund, The Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark and The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency