Aquatech sector worth over €200m
Over €15m has been invested in aquatech businesses and more than 200 hi-tech jobs created in last two years
An Irish aquatech company which has developed cutting edge technology to provide a groundbreaking solution to measuring nitrate in water has been announced as winner of the inaugural BIM Aquatech Business of the Year.
Aquamonitrix, which is based in Carlow, is delivering a dataset to the water industry on nitrates and nitrites that are toxic to fish, but which were previously impossible to measure in real time.
The company was announced as the BIM Aquatech Business of the Year at a conference in Killarney titled “Aquatech – Ireland’s Global Opportunity”. The conference followed a two-week BIM Innovation Studio delivered by aquaculture accelerator Hatch Blue and supported by the European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund. Eight aquatech companies took part.
Aquamonitrix is an aquatech spin-out from the oil and environmental analysis company TE Laboratories which started in 1991 carrying out fuel analysis. The company moved into environmental analysis, and then developed a solution to monitoring water quality two years ago. Since then, the Aquamonitrix analyser has been bought by fish farms around the world.
Aquamonitrix Director, Mark Bowkett, said the company is delighted to be named the first BIM Aquatech Business of the Year. “This means a lot of us, especially as we are new to the aquaculture sector. Our participation in the BIM Innovation Studio Programme was a gamechanger, and helped us to develop this opportunity. It has been a steep learning curve. But the Innovation Studio helped us to determine that we had a value proposition for the aquaculture industry.”
Today the company employs more than 50 people and has customers from as far afield as Norway, the Netherlands and Canada.
Meanwhile the conference heard that Ireland’s growing expertise in the developing aquatech sector means it has the potential to become a global leader in the field, with Irish aquatech companies turning over €200m last year.
BIM CEO Caroline Bocquel said over €15m has been invested in aquatech businesses and more than 200 high-tech jobs created in the sector over the last six years.
“Ireland is at a very exciting stage when it comes to aquatech. There are currently 62 aquatech companies operating here, all using technology to enable sustainable seafood farming at a time when the sector is facing many challenges.”
She added: “Ireland has the potential to be a world leader in aquatech and BIM is driving the sector’s development. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s Food Vision 2030 strategy is to “promote Ireland as a knowledge base for aquaculture technology and research and attract external investment into the sector.”
Congratulating Aquamonitrix on the award, she said the company is an example of the energy, innovation and talent that exists in the aquatech sector today.
BIM’s Development and Innovation Director Richard Donnelly said: “The scale of the opportunity is enormous. We believe that with proper supports Ireland has the potential to be the “Silicon Valley” of the aquatech world.”
“We are starting to see some very significant investments and some brilliant ideas. For example, the use of AI to monitor and provide early warnings on the health of aquaculture fish stocks. The BIM Innovation Studio, now in its 6th year, has played a major role in supporting companies in developing technology and guiding them on attracting investors and commercial scalability.”
The other two Aquatech Business of the Year finalists were Aqualicence, a marine and offshore windfarm consultancy firm supporting on all aspects of licensing applications and Konree Innovation, which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to outsmart infestation by sea lice, a parasite that affects salmon and other fish.