EC’s Blue Invest event to drag brightest minds into “Dragon’s Den”

William Stoichevski

Investor, start-up matchmaker event attracts fish-feed and land-based fish-farming businesses

The European Commission is putting on a start-up, investor event in the style of Dragon’s Den this May, in a first-time attempt to bring investors and ocean-industry projects together on a scale large enough to impact local economies, SalmonBusiness has learned.

Dragon’s Den is an international television show franchise that features hopeful entrepreneurs attempting to secure investor, or dragon, interest. It started in Japan and now has a major following in Canada, Ireland and the UK.

The one-day, Blue Invest 2018 in Brussels on May 17th will see 20 “ocean-industry” entrepreneur finalists pitch investors for real cash toward a range of business concepts that include aquaculture and offshore wind. One of those pitching is Portugal’s Aquaponics Iberia and their concept, Fish n’ Greens, a supermarket business idea intent on producing fish and vegetable produce in the same land-based facilities, judging by animations on its Web sites.

Illustrations above, WikiCommons

“We will give priority to species that guarantee greater sustainability in marine resources,” company literature says. An animated film shows the company’s logo on land-based grow-out linked to a retail grocery outlet and hydroponically grown vegetable garden, together called Aquaponia.

Aquaponics’ business model is biotech-based and really aims to combine growing food and fish together on land: fish-farming waste will fertilize the vegetables, and the plants in-turn help clean the many grow-out tanks envisioned. Aquaponics is short for growing plants in sand and/or water.

“The (challenge) is to combine these two techniques in a single system,” an entry in the Official Journal of the European Union said about the commercial concept.

EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, will open the Blue Invest event with a speech, before the event’s “Dragon’s Den” concept begins for those chosen from among the 120 who applied.

Another company pitching is Trondheim-based C-Feed. They’re looking for investors to produce plankton products for early-stage fish feed.

C-Feed chief executive, Tore Reeman, is a biotech engineer who has worked in Marine Harvest and SalMar and is now hoping to impress the Commission’s “dragons”.

While C-Feed has roots at Norwegian research institute, Sintef, its business is new and aimed at emerging commercial species like tuna, sea bream and salmon-cleaner fish.

“We are still a start-up,” Reeman told SalmonBusiness on Friday.

“We’re hoping to find investors to grow our business. For new species, especially, we have a product that can help them out — like tuna at the egg stage. They lack a good (saltwater) feed.”


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