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Hatch’s fourth aquaculture cohort unveiled

Technology & equipment Startups

Eight startups from a wide range of geographies have been selected for Hatch’s fourth aquaculture accelerator programme, which launched in Bergen today.

by Senior editor, The Fish Site
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Georg Baunach, Hatch's managing partner and co-founder, launched the company's fourth aquaculture accelerator programme in Bergen today

The companies are ANB Sensors, The Plant-based Seafood Company, Smart Oysters, CFeed, Sea Warden, ExciPlex, SuSeWi and Blue Lion Labs.

UK-based ANB produces calibration-free pH sensors and have 10 patents filed on their technology; The Plant-based Seafood Company produces a plant-based shrimp in USA; Smart Oysters, which is based in Australia, has developed a farm management software system for oyster farms; C-Feed, from Norway, is involved in the production and distribution of copepods as a live starter feed for marine finfish and shrimp.

SeaWarden provides remote auditing and data analytics solutions to reduce the cost and complexity of certifying farmed seafood and plans to develop a means of auditing through satellite observations, image capture and data storage and analytics. Exciplex is developing a novel way to detect mycotoxins in fish feeds and aims to produce a handheld testing device. SuSeWi is involved in replicating algal blooms on land, in raceways – both to produce algae for aquafeeds and as a method of carbon sequestration.

Finally Blue Lion Labs, which is based in Canada, is developing machine learning and AI software to detect potentially harmful algal species and sea lice larvae in the ocean, allowing farmers to take preventative action.

“For the 2020 Hatch programme we have a record number of applications from a competitive list of companies across the globe. After we receive the application form, our selection process includes a number of interviews between the company and the Hatch team, and internal due diligence. Our due diligence process includes looking into the team, understanding the technology, market analysis, verifying the traction received to date, and consulting the Hatch network. We have chosen to invest in the eight companies listed above, who we believe are at the forefront of aquaculture and alternative seafood innovation,” says India Boyer, dealflow manager at Hatch.

Each of the eight startups will be given $75,000 in cash and $55,000 in-kind services – the bulk of the latter taking place in an intensive 16-week accelerator programme. While this normally takes place in Hatch’s offices in Bergen, Singapore and Hawaii, this year it will take place via webinars and remote mentoring sessions from some of the leading figures in aquaculture and business, including Einar Wathne, former CEO of EWOS; Øyvind Fylling-Jensen, CEO of Nofima; and US-based sustainable aquaculture champion, Jennifer Bushman.

Covid-19 has, of course, impacted plans for this year’s programme.

“We’re disappointed not to be able to visit all three of our sites together, but we’re confident that we will be able to deliver on a digital level, having been working remotely as a team for much of the last six months. Thankfully, having run three cohorts already, we have plenty of experience to draw on and a professional team to help out this promising new group of companies,” reflects Moritz Mueller, marketing manager at Hatch. “And we plan, when conditions allow, to arrange a series of site visits next year, to give the startups additional insights into the sector.”

After almost three years in operation, Hatch has invested in 38 companies, run three successful cohorts and raised its first $8 million fund.

Wayne Murphy, co-founder and partner, is eagerly anticipating the event.

“We have invested heavily in growing our own team to meet the increasing needs of our portfolio companies and indeed the demands within the sector. This year’s cohort demonstrates once again the global spread of aquaculture innovation with participant companies based from as far away as Hawaii and Australia. Our selection process was more competitive than ever this year and we are looking forward to working closely with an incredibly talented group of aquapreneurs and, of course, to ultimately accelerate their potential and development even further,” he says.