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Mike Velings, Aqua-Spark founder and managing partner. (Photo: Aqua-Spark)

Aqua Spark invests in technology to boost aquaculture

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017, 22:30 (GMT + 9)

Investment fund Aqua-Spark has announced its latest investments to radically improve fish farming by eliminating antibiotics, reducing feed, and enabling farms to safeguard their broodstock.

With these investments -- in in phage-platform technology leader Proteon Pharmaceuticals and in reproductive technology platform Cryoocyte, the fund has entered into new areas of the value-chain.

Proteon is developing alternatives to antibiotics while Cryoocyte is increasing efficiency in breeding and helping reduce aquaculture’s footprint.

“Finding alternatives to antibiotics has been a company priority from the start – so, the strides Proteon has made in understanding bacteriophages are truly a boon,” explained Mike Velings and Amy Novogratz, cofounders of Aqua-Spark.

“After years of being on the periphery, we’re just starting to unlock phages potential. Proteon is transforming phages found in nature into commercial-grade products that target bacterial infections in a way that doesn’t create resistance,” they added.

Proteon has two main products on the market: a solution against Pseudomonas and Aeromonas infections in fish and a solution against Salmonella infections in poultry. The company also has custom vaccines and farm-monitoring services that are market ready, and an impressive pipeline of product development.

Cryoocyte, a reproductive technology platform for high-precision fish farming, is bringing greater control and accuracy to fish breeding. The company’s technology for low temperature preservation of unfertilized eggs allows more time to assess genetic material before mating decisions must be made. New data on egg quality, presence of disease, and parental DNA helps Cryoocyte’s customers make more precise male-female mating decisions and produce naturally healthier offspring.

Extending the window between spawning and fertilization creates an opportunity to grade each batch of eggs based on biochemical, morphological, and genetic characteristics. That data can then be used to allocate the right batches to the right farmers based on their needs.

High-precision reproduction leads to better use of valuable biological resources and ultimately results in industry-wide improvements -- such as lower mortality, less frequent disease treatments, and improved utilization of production inputs such as feed.

In addition, Cryoocyte is working on technologies for cryopreservation of fish eggs that can have a positive impact on both global fish production and marine biodiversity conservation.

So far, Aqua-Spark has EUR 49,2 million under management, dedicated to investments in elements of the aquaculture industry that will make fish farming sustainable. The goal of the fund is to grow to EUR 1,5 billion AUM by 2025.


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