Production of healthy and robust juveniles is a critical success factor and a major bottleneck in marine aquaculture. The first weeks in the life of marine fish larvae are often characterized by high mortalities and malformations.
Marine fish larvae are small and vulnerable after hatching. As opposed to salmon larvae which can digest formulated as a first feed, marine fish larvae lack a functional stomach and are hence in demand of high-quality live feed organisms of the right size, nutritional quality and digestibility in order to grow and develop. The first weeks after hatching are critical for the larvae's wellbeing and sets the premises for later development. Fish farmers should therefore monitor the larvae regularly during the early stages of production to achieve predictability and profitability later in the production cycle, however the tools to do so are lacking. «Smart Larval Rearing System (SLRS)» will monitor and interpret the biology of high numbers of fish larvae in real time with the intention of giving fish farmers a decision support tool for increasing quality, reducing costs, and improving control during this challenging and important first part of a production cycle. The process will take place without the need for direct handling of the fish to avoid inflicting stress on the fragile larvae.
The primary objective of this project was to obtain one or more signed letters of intent for pilot trials where the innovation is tested in situ at a marine aquaculture site and a market analysis that will support a decision on primary market for the invention.
A comprehensive market survey was conducted in our project by Impello, a leading company in strategy and financial advisory and M&A. Their most important source of information was depth interviews with people from the marine larviculture industry and desktop studies. The interviewees were asked about their opinion of the product (SLRS), which procedures, barriers and challenges they faced in their own production, purchase agreements and their current and future market perspectives. They were also asked if they would be interested in partaking in testing the technology, or using such technology in the future when it would be more matured. The conclusion from the interview rounds is that our technology is considered highly needed and sought after by the marine larviculture industry, and slightly less so from the salmon industry at its current state. We identified 6 industry partners which said they would be interested in cooperation in the development of SLRS in future pilot projects. The ones which were not interested in partaking in the testing themselves, all said they wanted continuous updates on SLRS as it progresses.
The technology behind SLRS were after an extensive search in patent databases found to be unique and has therefore been sought patented. The project has so developed a commercialisation- and IP-strategy, including a technological roadmap which will guide us through the next phases of this innovation. Based on this qualifying project, it has been decided to continue with the commercialisation of SLRS.
Det finnes ikke et produkt som SLRS i dagens marked, og prosjektet har vist at det helt tydelig er et behov for det. Dette ble bekreftet gjennom flere dybdeintervjuer med potensielle kunder og brukere, som samtlige meldte at de var interessert i og ønsket å ta i bruk en slik teknologi om den hadde vært tilgjengelig. For prosjektgruppen har prosjektet medført en forsikring om at innovasjonen har et kommersialiseringspotensiale, og det har blitt tydeliggjort hvilke deler av innovasjonen som skal prioriteres på kort og lengre sikt, og at denne fordrer tett tverrfaglig samarbeid mellom teknologer, biologer, produktdesignere, markeds- og bedriftsutviklere.
Innovasjonen vil på sikt kunne bidra til å dekke kunnskapshull og informasjonsgap i produksjonslinjer og loggføringsverktøy for marine fiskelarver. Målet er å gi oppdrettere bedre kontroll gjennom velutprøvde og standardiserte metoder og innhenting og tolkning av produksjonsdata. Et slikt verktøy vil tillate økt fokus på fiskevelferd på individnivå, samtidig som det kan føre til mer effektiv bruk og utnyttelse av globalt begrensede ressurser som marine fôringredienser, energi og ferskvann gjennom en mer dynamisk tilnærming til produksjon av fiskelarver.