Hatch, a Norway-based accelerator program focused on aquaculture startups, announced yesterday that it had raised $8.4 million to recruit a fourth cohort and further invest in its existing portfolio (via The Fish Site). Thus far the fund has raised over $10 million in external investment thus far. It currently operates in Hawaii, Bergen (Norway), and Singapore.
Founded in 2018, Hatch launched its first three-month accelerator program, which included eight aquaculture startups, in the spring of 2018. As my colleague Jenn Marston wrote at the time:
Each team will get $30,600 (USD) in addition to mentoring, development help, office space, and the chance to make new connections in the aquaculture industry. For those companies that have “high potential,” an additional loan will be available once they complete the program.
Since then the numbers have gone up. Per the Hatch website, each startup in the accelerator program will receive a total of $130,000 ($75,000 in cash, $55,000 in kind). They’ll also receive a year of free office space, mentorship, and product development connections.
Hatch is looking for startups that are reinventing and streamlining any part of the aquaculture field, from seafood nutrition to population management to new species development. Past participants in Hatch’s program range from Algaebra, an automated shrimp hatchery, to Gaskiya, which tests tilapia for the streptococcus virus. They’ve even invested in Finless Foods, the startup growing bluefin tuna from fish cells in bioreactors.
Overfishing is a pressing problem, depleting oceans of seafood and disrupting the delicate balance of the ecosystem. Aquaculture is certainly one alternative, but it carries its own burdens: water pollution, and overuse of pesticides, to name a few. As our population — and hunger for seafood — increases, we’ll need to get more creative to make seafood cultivation more sustainable.
A growing number of startups are getting creative with ways to solve this disconnect. Aquabyte uses machine learning to monitor in-ocean fisheries, Ynsect is developing insect farms to use for fish feed, and companies like Timberfish and BluePlanet are reinventing seafood farms altogether. There’s also a handful of companies developing cell-based seafood, which could dramatically reduce our reliance on ocean fishing and aquaculture altogether.
With seafood consumption set to increase, Hatch’s fresh funds could be chum in the water for innovative aquaculture startups.