“It’s been one heck of a journey”: Machine learning and data start-up aims to streamline aquaculture industry

Ole Alexander Saue

IT firm Manolin is determined to revolutionise data in the industry. Last weekend they scooped a prestigious startup pitchers’ award worth NOK 300 thousand (EUR 31.7 thousand) boosting their ambitions.

“It’s been one heck of a journey,” co-founder and CEO of Manolin, Anthony Chen, told SalmonBusiness.

Investing in the future
He is one of several foreign founders aspiring to streamline today’s aquaculture industry. According to Chen there is huge potential in machine learning and data collection, and although the young American has been in Norway just six months, he has learned plenty about the Norwegian aquaculture industry. Also on the Manolin team is fellow American, John Costantino and Australian, Natalie Brennan.

“The response has been pretty good. In Norway, even though it is a conservative industry, they are considerably more willing to think innovatively than for example, the oysters and shrimp market that we have worked with in America. They are right there at the forefront when it comes to investing in the future,” Chen told SalmonBusiness.

Automatic ASC reporting
Manolin offers a digital fish health analytics platform, which among other features makes it easier to gather information on lice and lice treatments. Real-Time data provides basic trend analyses and contributes to more efficient treatment of salmon lice. There are currently more than 100 fish farm sites in Norway testing out their technology free of charge.

They are now also developing a solution for automated Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) reporting, of which Salmon Group member, Kvarøy Fiskeoppdrett, is already a paying customer.

“They upload information about the fish farm, after which we collect the data automatically, and at the end of the month we report directly to the website. To have an ASC-certified farm site/facility, you are required to have a website that documents that required standards have been met,” said Chen.

The company is currently working with diverse methods of simplifying reporting to the authorities.

“We’re looking at solutions for different methods of reporting. In addition we apply machine learning to anticipate potential health problems for the fish. The intention is not to change their operation, but to make it simpler,” he said.

“Currently, farmers have to spend too much time reporting in masses of information. Either it is data they have to collect themselves or provide to others. It’s overwhelming – to say the least, and it’s impeding them from doing their job of tending to the fish,” he stressed.

Seeking investors
Last Thursday the company came out on top of a fiercely contested Oslo Innovation Week’s “100 Pitches” contest (see video at the bottom of the article), with a cash prize of NOK 300 thousand ((EUR 31.7 thousand) from DNB.

“It certainly helps. Now we’re looking to attract funding from external investors; while we are also applying to Innovation Norway and other similar organisations,” concluded Chen.

You can watch the award ceremony via the DNB Facebook live link.


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