The partnership will give EFHC a flying start, says Managing Director of EI, Adel El-Mowafi.
The research center is under construction in the Los Lagos region in Chile, and represents an investment of more than NOK 80 million for EWOS.
The agreement was signed by El-Mowafi and CEO of VESO, Arne Ruud, during Aqua Nor in Trondheim. It is valid for five years, and VESO has option for another three years.
VESO will hire 25 per cent of the capacity in the research center. The company’s experts will assist EI in operating the center, and both EWOS and VESO will thus have access to infectious material and previously developed infection models.
"The establishment of EFHC requires top Biosafety. There is no room for error in the initial phase, and for that reason VESO is the ideal partner," says Mr El-Mowafi.
First trials in March
VESOs expertise means that trials can start at an earlier stage in the EFHC.
"The building of the center started this spring, and the first trials will take place already by March next year," says Mr El-Mowafi, addings that the construction is going according to plan.
Leading on fish health
VESO is already a leader when it comes to fish health, both in Norway and abroad. The company takes on assignments for the vast majority of companies who deliver vaccines, breeding companies and feed manufacturers.
"This is a win-win situation since VESO will also have increased access to the vast Chilean market. We have had a strong desire to conduct infection trials in Chile for a long time," says Arne Ruud, who has management experience from EWOS in the period 1998-2002.
Good dialogue with EWOS
He says that VESO has been looking for facilities in Chile for years, but that the company has not wanted to take the risk of building a facility alone.
"About two years ago we gave some suggestions to the construction of EFHC, and this good dialogue has contributed to the recently signed agreement. It was a coincidence that this happened just after Cargill became EWOS’ new owner. VESO is now sending several researchers to Chile to conduct training on a temporary basis. We will also recruit a scientific manager who will have EFHC as the permanent workplace.
"We have a good overview of the tasks that wait, and we will gradually build up our organization in Chile," says Mr Ruud.
Sea lice and SRS
Feed is a central part of the solution for improving fish health. EWOS is investing heavily in research and innovation to create special products that will make it possible to reduce the use of expensive and environmentally controversial drugs and chemicals.
The big challenge for the aquaculture industry in Norway is to combat the sea lice, while the bacterial disease Piscirickettsiosis (SRS) creates similar problems in Chile.
"There has been limited research capacity on sea lice and SRS, but EWOS Innovation will now be able to conduct three to four times more studies a year. This will represent an increase of 30-40 per cent worldwide," says Mr El-Mowafi.
Arne Ruud adds: "In Chile there are many who say that SRS is the root of all evil. If we can find a solution to the SRS-problem, much is won. Cooperation between EI and VESO will provide valuable exchange of knowledge for both parties, which in turn will benefit EWOS customers and the industry in general."