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Hatch closes first aquaculture startup sale

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
9 February 2021, at 10:55am

Genetirate, a biotechnology company focused on increasing the growth rates in commercial aquaculture species, has been acquired by IMV Technologies.

Genetirate’s founder, Dr Benjamin Renquist
Genetirate’s founder, Dr Benjamin Renquist

GenetiRate was launched in 2018 around a technology capable of identifying and sorting the ova and spat of aquatic animal species (including fish, crustaceans and molluscs) by their metabolic rate.

GenetiRate’s founder, Dr Benjamin Renquist from the University of Arizona, developed the technology that was patented with the aid of the university’s commercialisation arm, Tech Launch Arizona, and licensed from the university. It was then built into a company with support from aquaculture investment group Hatch*, as part of the second cohort of its aquaculture accelerator.

“We are happy to have identified, invested in and sold a company in just under two years with a technology that will make the sector an order of magnitude more efficient. It´s great to see how our model of investing in sustainable aquaculture innovation and providing in-depth market know-how and network creates value to industry and investors alike,” said Dr Carsten Krome, managing partner at Hatch.

GenetiRate has taken part in commercial pilots with companies including Hendrix, Hawaiian Shellfish, Desert Spring Tilapia and Cold Spring Trout. A trial in which they assessed the metabolic rates of 18,000 tilapia eggs and compared the performance of the top 4,500 and bottom 4,500 ova demonstrated a 28 percent better growth rate in the former.

"We measure the metabolic rate of the egg using a high throughput screening method and identify faster growing individuals, independent of feed intake – so these are animals that are inherently better for growth,” said Dr Renquist in a previous interview with The Fish Site.

Dr Eric Schmitt, director of innovation, science, and technology at IMV Technologies, said: “We are excited to welcome Genetirate and its team to the IMV Technologies family. Dr Renquist and his lab have developed important technology that we believe should be taken to the market for the benefit of the salmon, trout industries and beyond.”

IMV Technologies entered into the aquaculture industry in the early 2000s with the acquisition of early salmonid egg-sorting technology, the Sustaf. Its presence later expanded to media and solutions for the preservation and storage of milt and eggs. The acquisition of ProSorter technology in 2016 cemented the company’s recognition as commercial provider of assisted reproduction technology for salmonids.

“With similar customer bases and products and a shared focus on technology development, joining the IMV family was a natural fit,” said Dr Renquist. “IMV will provide the foundation for us to rapidly expand the application of GenetiRate’s technologies to enhance production across the aquaculture industry. We look forward to developing technology to automate our selection process in most species.”

* Genetirate is part of Hatch's portfolio, but The Fish Site retains editorial independence.