Aquaculture for all

New Zealand’s aquaculture innovators head to Aqua Nor

Technology & equipment Events Startups +5 more

Eleven of the most exciting businesses to emerge from Aotearoa New Zealand’s aquaculture and aquatech industry sectors are gearing up to visit Aqua Nor, one of the largest aquaculture trade shows and conferences on the planet.

using a barge to check farmed oysters
Aqua Mould Systems has developed a unique way of growing oysters in stacked containers

The system allows farmers to increase stocking densities and produce smooth-shelled oysters with patterns or text on them © Aqua Mould Systems

The delegation, led by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) in partnership with Hatch Innovation Services, will seek partnerships and opportunities at the event, which takes place in Trondheim from 22-24 August.

The group will include four of the five cohort participants from this year’s Global Innovation Launchpad for New Zealand Aquaculture: Aqua Mould Systems (AMS), Foodcap International, New Zealand Plant and Food Research, and AquaWatch (formerly RiverWatch). All four are currently taking part in a programme designed to empower the country’s innovative, impact-driven businesses to scale up and capture their true potential in the global aquaculture industry. These businesses have completed an intensive market preparation programme delivered by Hatch Innovation Services, with attendance at Aqua Nor capping off the programme.

Tanja Hoel, managing director of Hatch Innovation Services, noted she was highly impressed by the level of technology represented by the cohort, and the companies’ eagerness to engage with the Hatch team and the industry.

Abi Croutear-Foy, chief growth officer at AquaWatch, added: “AquaWatch has been thrilled to be part of the Hatch/NZTE accelerator. It's given our company a great way of learning about how we can share our accessible, and scalable ways of gathering water health and fish behavior data and putting that alongside the insights that those who work in the space have gathered through years of experience. We're looking forward to building out our global partnerships whilst in Norway."

A person inspecting a device beside a fish farm
Abi Croutear-Foy, chief growth officer of AquaWatch (formerly RiverWatch) pictured with the company’s real-time water quality monitoring technology at a New Zealand salmon hatchery

© AquaWatch

Alongside the launchpad cohort, other businesses joining the New Zealand delegation are drawn from across the country’s aquaculture industry and related fields, representing the nation’s expertise and innovation in the sector.

The eleven companies taking part in the delegation are:

  1. Aqua Mould Systems NZ Limited (AMS): is a technology company that will licence patented technology to oyster growers and distributors around the globe. The revolutionary new AMS regenerative growing system will change the way oysters are farmed for the better. It will allow oyster farmers to grow more high-quality oysters, more profitability, from the same water space, in a shorter time, which sell for a significantly higher price than oysters grown using other systems, all with less impact on the environment.
  2. AquaWatch (formerly RiverWatch): uses accessible and highly accurate technology to take the assumptions out of water quality management. They offer a full solution designed to ensure continuity of water management insights in a way that is accessible to deploy, maintain and afford and have developed AquaWatch for specific applications in aquaculture.
  3. Boss Net Cleaning: specialises in providing comprehensive net cleaning solutions for the aquaculture industry. One of their standout offerings is the AutoBoss net cleaner, a state-of-the-art automated system designed to efficiently clean aquaculture nets. This utilises advanced robotics and intelligent software to perform thorough and precise cleaning, removing fouling, debris and biofouling from the nets. It significantly reduces the need for manual labour and increases the efficiency of net cleaning operations.
  4. Cawthron Institute: is Aotearoa New Zealand’s largest independent science organisation ‒ a leader in delivering world-class scientific research for a better future. Established over 100 years ago by philanthropist Thomas Cawthron, it is focused on marine and freshwater ecosystem research that benefits environment, society and economy. Home to over 300 researchers and support staff, the institute holds expertise in fields of research that are critical to enabling a prosperous blue economy including aquaculture, blue technology, biosecurity, marine ecology, microalgae and seaweed.
  5. ENL Group Limited (WASSP): Founded in 1945, ENL Group has earned a solid reputation for outstanding service, innovation and supply of quality marine electronic products worldwide. Such was the strength of ENL in the global market, particularly with their development of WASSP multibeam sounder that global marine electronics giant Furuno took a 10 percent stake in 2014. Furuno increased this to 29.5 percent a year later, then to 51 percent majority shareholding in 2018.
  6. Foodcap International: is a food handling innovation company, committed to the core principles of the prevention of waste and the conservation of resources. It is currently spearheading the development and commercialisation of disruptive circular packaging solutions.
  7. Mesh Industries Group: was founded in 1932 and manufactures specialty wire mesh products, including marine mesh for inshore and offshore marine farming globally. Using copper alloy wire and incorporating its patented M LoKK double knuckle technology, the company’s marine mesh is manufactured using equipment that was designed and built by their own engineering division to meet the requirements of the aquaculture industry.
  8. Oceanum: provides expert users with an environmental intelligence platform to enable data science and applications. Oceanum has a core purpose to create ocean knowledge, through applying the latest science code within an agile technology stack to resolve the important physical ocean processes.
  9. Plant and Food Research NZ: is a New Zealand government-owned research institute. It works with partners to improve the way they grow, fish, harvest, prepare and share food. It has 1,000 people working across Aotearoa New Zealand and the world to help deliver healthy foods from the world’s most sustainable systems.
  10. Premium Seas New Zealand: is a champion of New Zealand seaweeds and premium seaweed products. The Premium Seas team combines decades of aquaculture, product development and seaweed expertise. Supported by a highly engaged stakeholder network, Premium Seas are committed to the development of a prosperous seaweed sector within New Zealand.
  11. Southern Salmon Lights (SSL): is an underwater LED light manufacturing company, making fittings that have been used in salmon farms and hatcheries since 2015. Customers include Mt Cook Alpine Salmon, Salmon Smolt, Clear water, High Country Salmon, King Salmon and Petuna. They also supply fittings to kelp farms for Ch4 Global and do a lot of R&D work on prawn farms in Australia. The company is currently looking to expand internationally – targeting mostly hatcheries for the first year and then moving over to grow-out farms.

Chris Cornelisen, chief science capability officer at Cawthron Institute, will also present research within Aqua Nor’s conference proceedings, highlighting New Zealand innovations in data science and ocean engineering to support sustainable, productive large-scale offshore ocean farming.

“For us, travelling to Aqua Nor will be a combination of relationship building exercise and fact finding mission,” says Andy Fairhall, founder of Boss Net Cleaning, which participated in NZTE and Hatch’s aquaculture accelerator pilot in 2022.

“This really will be a global affair. Being there will give us a lot more exposure on the international stage. We’re looking to engage with our distribution partners and connect with customers, new and existing. We want face-to-face contact that’ll let us consolidate our relationships.

“Aqua Nor will also give us a better understanding of where the industry is going globally. We’ll be able to take that information, consider how it sits with our product, and develop it over the next few years, to better meet customer demands.”

a man with a large buoy
Cawthron Institute scientist Paul Barter deploying an upgraded Cawthron-designed wind and solar powered monitoring buoy in Milford Sound

© Cawthron Institute

Ambitious national targets

The aquaculture launchpad programme, and the wider New Zealand delegation to Aqua Nor, have been supported through New Zealand’s Agritech Industry Transformation Plan, which aims to grow the country’s agritech sector to NZ$8 billion in revenue by 2030.

“NZTE is really pleased to be supporting the delegation of New Zealand companies at Aqua Nor,” says Graeme Solloway, agritech partnerships lead for NZTE.

“Our partnership with Hatch has been instrumental in identifying opportunities for New Zealand technology in the development of aquaculture. This delegation is an extension of that partnership which has focused on establishing a launchpad for some of our emerging companies in this area.

“We have a strong group of New Zealand companies visiting Aqua Nor with a wide range of technologies and interests in the aquaculture sector, and I’m confident they will learn a lot and make some strong connections to benefit New Zealand and the wider industry.”

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