Kicking off in Perth, Australia at the end of 2017, Aquacelerator was an effort to revolutionize the aquaculture industry, develop local economies across the Indian Ocean region, and improve our relationship with oceans, fishing, and aquatic life, by connecting inspiring innovators with the networks capable of turning their ideas into reality. Led by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) InnovationXchange, in partnership with SecondMuse, Aquacelerator advanced the global adoption and scale of ten of the most inspiring ideas surfaced during the Blue Economy Challenge.
While Aquacelerator concluded on World Oceans Day in June 2017, the work of the ten innovators, as chronicled in the short film Accelerating the Blue Economy: Aquaculture Innovations in the Indian Ocean, has only picked up speed. Over the last year, while we have witnessed organizations like Indian Ocean Trepang sharing their work at the World Bank’s 2018 #Oceans4Africa conference and SeaPower sharing their story on CBS News, we wanted to check back in with the innovators for updates. We caught up with some of them to hear how they are innovating now.
Last year was a tough year as AgriProtein drove their biology and engineering hard, and added to it a financing work stream that added to everyone’s work load – from the CFO to the cleaning team (presentations and floors needed to be polished before all the due diligence visits).
AgriProtein won some extraordinary awards, from the CleanTech 100, through the Prince of Monaco’s Environmental prize and, outside of the environmental honors, were humbled on pure business grounds to have Richard Branson hand them an Industry Disruptor award for entrepreneurialism.
The team finished the year larger and stronger with twenty new hires, with their major financing round ($105M) complete while looking forward to some material international deployment in 2019.
BRIDGING INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITIES
Bridging International Communities is continuing to work to refine the design of the Oasis. They are focusing on making improvements to increase the ease of manufacturing. So far, they have finished refining the tanks, which has included a switch to a new material (three layer food grade polyethylene film). They are working with a product design firm to finish up some refinements of the pumping system.
Jackie and Michelle traveled to Tanzania last July and met with several NGOs to find an implementing partner for the pilot. While there, they visited with Flower Msuya of SeaPower.
It was a very interesting and busy year for EnerGaia. They opened their new office in Bangladesh, hired four team members and started three spirulina farms there, with many valuable lessons learned along the way. They signed an agreement with the MBZ Fund for a new project linking spirulina production to rural livelihood creation in coastal communities to protect the dugong, which came about from our connection to Donna Kwan from the UN Environment CMS in Perth. They also won the Southeast Asia track of the Fish 2.0 competition which helped them to find their lead Series A investor. EnerGaia expect to close the funding round in July to provide them with the capital to expand their efforts over the next two to three years across the region.
At their Bangkok HQ, EnerGaia has hired several new team members with backgrounds in social finance, social enterprise, IT, sales and marketing, science and technology over the past year to help them with their journey. The new additions are helping EnerGaia to better scope their projects and improve their system designs to make them more productive and sustainable.
Since being part of the Aquacelerator, MicroSynbiotiX has made incredible progress towards realizing its ambition of one day replacing antibiotics and hand-held injection vaccines for fish with sustainable and environmentally-friendly microalgal oral vaccines. Since joining the InnovationXchange’s Aquacelerator, the company has completed its proof-of-concept and shown that it can vaccinate a juvenile fish using its microalgal oral delivery technology. (link to story here). The trial was sponsored by Nutreco and conducted by the Center for Aquaculture Technologies, Canada. Now the company is poised to raise its next round of funding and is in talks with several large animal health companies to take its technology to the next level. Now that the company has shown microalgal oral vaccines are immunogenic, they would like to work with larger animal health companies to see whether their vaccines give protective immunity using the company’s oral delivery technology.
The Recycler has continued to scale up its insect-derived protein factory based on the Blue Economy Challenge grant and now has a fully functioning factory that sells its insect protein to farmers in Tanzania as a replacement fishmeal. The company has gone from concept idea to full-functioning business and has spun off to form Biobuu Limited – a company fully focused on insect protein development. This company has won the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund that will bring the factory to producing ten tons a month of dried insect feed. They are now raising money to copy their factory and paste it all across Africa with the goal of having five new factories in the next five years.