Fish 2.0’s Global Innovators Forum honors cutting-edge developments, from robotic fish to barley-based feed
At Fish 2.0’s Global Innovators Forum, the top innovators in six categories spanned the seafood industry, from packaging materials to blockchain.
Among the featured creations this year were: A fish transport box that replaces polystyrene containers; a barley-based fish feed; an antibiotic-free crayfish hatchery; a robotic fish outfitted with sensors to monitor offshore fish farms; an online B2B wholesale marketplace; and a blockchain-based traceability solution.
Those winners — Fortuna, Montana Microbial Products, Australian Seafood, Aquaai, Yorso, and Wholechain — were among 40 businesses that pitched at Fish 2.0's Global Innovators Forum, held in Stanford, California from 5-6 November. About 250 investors, business leaders, government representatives, and business people gathered for the forum, which was the fourth such event since 2013, and the final one.
“I’ve seen more high-quality companies and presentations at this year’s Fish 2.0 Forum than at any previous one,” Mitchell Presser, of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, said in a statement. Presser is an investor who has participated in every cycle of Fish 2.0 and invested in several companies, including 2017 Fish 2.0 award winner NovoNutrients. “You get to understand the dynamics of the market here and you see a lot of opportunities, so you can evaluate the best and move forward.”
The 40 businesses invited to participate had to beat out significant competition for the chance to pitch, and came from around the world to do so. Prior to the forum, 150 entrants' pitches were reviewed by 50 experienced investors. Businesses that were deemed sufficiently ready for investment became Fish 2.0 Qualified and gained access to the Fish 2.0 Connect hub online, where they can meet potential investors and partners.
About half of the pitches focused on aquaculture, including fish feeds, genetics, disease control, sensors, production enhancement, and automation. Others centered on kelp and algae, consumer products, non-plastic packaging, waste reduction, climate change mitigation, and advanced trading networks. Technology innovations included cameras and robotics for fisheries monitoring and aquaculture, high tech fishing gear, and traceability systems that work across all stages of the supply chain.
Fish 2.0 has grown significantly since the first event in 2013, in which 20 early-stage businesses from an initial pool of 84 applicants were allowed to pitch onstage, most of them from the U.S. This year’s 40 businesses were more mature companies, many with prototypes and products already in the marketplace, coming from around the world. The funding doled out has matched that growth: investors put USD 300 million (EUR 272 million) into the first three cohorts, while putting USD 200 million (EUR 181 million) into the 2017 cohort alone.
“When we launched Fish 2.0, few people saw seafood as an exciting sector for sustainable business innovation,” Monica Jain, Fish 2.0 founder and executive director, said in a statement. “And we believed progress would accelerate if we could help investors and entrepreneurs build the knowledge and connections they needed to get promising ideas off the ground and move capital into the sector.”
Photo courtesy of the Fish 2.0 Global Innovators Forum