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Mar 27, 2019
‘Fear factor’ holding VCs back from aquaculture tech investments
Investors’ unfamiliarity with aquaculture and need for proof of success are barriers Intense pressure from consumers for the aquaculture industry to demonstrate sustainability has served as catalyst for some innovations that are transforming aquaculture but there are barriers to tech investments. At the inaugural Animal AgTech Innovation Summit in San Francisco on March 18, the role of technology in delivering sustainability and efficiency to aquaculture was in the spotlight. The summit gathered innovators and investors in the food industry to share knowledge and build partnerships to bring innovations to market. “There are 700 different aquatic species that are being farmed globally today,” says Mike Velings, co-founder and partner of Netherlands-based aquaculture investment firm Aqua-Spark. “The aquaculture industry is larger than the beef industry; it's already larger than fisheries for human consumption and people think that it will double before mid-century and potentially even triple before mid-century, which means a lot of new behaviors and a lot of new developments in an industry that's relatively young.” Vellings chaired the session, “The rise of aquaculture: transforming the industry through digitization, closed systems and alternative protein feeds,” where the panel comprising executives from aquaculture-related companies shared their insights into the industry, its opportunities and challenges, and the innovations that are addressing those challenges. They included US biotech firm and FeedKind protein manufacturer Calysta Inc; San Francisco-based startup Aquabyte whose platform applies computer vision and machine learning in aquaculture management systems; US-based startup Manolin, whose software platform helps fish farmers optimize sea lice treatments and improve fish health through data analytics; Norwegian salmon farmer Cermaq; and Japanese conglomerate Mitsui & Co. Read the article.