Aqua-Spark, others invest millions in Canadian aquaculture technology firm XpertSea
XpertSea, a Canadian company involved in precision technologies for use in aquaculture, has attracted CAD 10 million (USD 8 million, EUR 6.4 million) in financing, including a large investment from sustainable aquaculture-focused investment fund Aqua-Spark.
XpertSea’s platform uses artificial intelligence and computer vision to count and size early-stage aquatic organisms such as shrimp larvae and live feed. The company’s technology allows farms and hatcheries to track and manage their aquatic populations with greater speed and accuracy, the company said in a press release.
"This investment will help XpertSea take the guesswork out of aquaculture inventory management, which will drive profits for aquaculture producers and deliver positive environmental returns for our planet,” XpertSea CEO and co-founder Valerie Robitaille said. “Precision aquaculture technology is the key to bringing transparency to transactions and standardizing practices across the industry, which benefits everyone along the aquaculture food chain.”
The financing is a co-investment led by Obvious Ventures and Aqua-Spark, as well as Real Ventures, which previously invested in the company’s seed round. Real Ventures, headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, is an early-stage venture capital firm established in 2007, currently with USD 330 million (EUR 266.4 million) under management. Obvious Ventures, based in San Francisco, California, U.S.A. was founded in 2014 and has more than USD 300 million (EUR 242.1 million) under management.
"Valerie and her team have the expertise necessary to bring transparency and efficiency at a critical time to this industry,” Obvious Ventures Managing Director Andrew Beebe said. “They are digitally upgrading the world of aquaculture in a way that will benefit all players – farmers, retailers, and consumers."
The Netherlands-based Aqua-Spark has between USD 10 and 25 million (EUR 8.1 and 20.2 million) under management, according to Impact Assets. In November 2017, it invested in Proteon Pharmaceuticals, which is developing alternatives to antibiotics used in aquaculture, and U.S.-based fish-breeding technology firm Cryoocyte. In December 2016, it invested USD 2.5 million (EUR 2.3 million) in seafood-focused meal-kit maker LoveTheWild.
“The smartest route to excellent aquaculture and healthy fish is reliable data, which has been sorely missing in the industry to date,” Aqua-Spark co-founders Mike Velings and Amy Novogratz said in the release. “Farmers can’t make accurate judgments, particularly about feed, if they don’t know the number of organisms in the water or distribution size. Aqua-Spark takes an industry-wide approach, meaning we invest across the value chain. XpertSea is the first company with a successful product to focus on smaller organisms suitable for hatcheries, which is where the farming process begins. Their ability to solve production challenges in aquaculture is limitless and makes them a key value-add for our portfolio.”
The capital injection will allow XpertSea, which currently has customers in 48 countries, to expand its technology offerings and continue to build its team.