Call-out to ambitious aquatech companies to apply for 2024 BIM Innovation Studio


Minister Charlie McConalogue welcomes significant €15 million aquatech investment from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund


Ambitious aquatech businesses are invited to apply for a groundbreaking Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) mentoring programme in a sector which has just attracted a €15 million investment from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF).

The ISIF has announced the investment to Hatch’s Blue Revolution Fund which focuses on early-stage companies who have the potential to transform aquatech.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, today announced that BIM is partnering again this year with aquaculture accelerator, Hatch Blue, for its popular Innovation Studio.

This is a free, intensive two-week programme aimed at supporting young aquatech companies in all aspects of development including technology and investment. BIM’s Aquatech Development Programme is supported by the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (2021 – 2027) with an investment of €380,000 in 2024.

The aim of the BIM Innovation Studio is to grow Ireland’s €200 million aquatech business, and to position the country as the “silicon valley” of the sector.

Now in its seventh year, some 50 projects and companies have completed the Innovation Studio, and have attracted a total investment of around €15 million, creating more than 200 hi-tech jobs.

“I am delighted to announce applications are open for the 2024 BIM Innovation Studio which has fostered a wealth of innovation, energy and talent in Ireland’s growing aquatech sector since its inception seven years ago,” said Minister McConalogue.

“This programme offers a unique opportunity for companies with technology applicable to the globally important aquaculture sector to improve their investor readiness and increase market access.

“Ireland is leading the way in the development of the aquatech sector with some 60 Irish aquatech companies turning over €200 million in 2022 with the potential for significant growth and job creation.”

The Minister welcomed the €15 million investment by ISIF in the Blue Revolution Fund which invests in early stage aquatech companies. “This is a huge vote of confidence in the sector which has enormous potential. Aquatech companies can advance the health of the oceans while providing sustainable seafood regenerative ecosystem services and community benefits.”

Aquatech is any technology or innovation driving sustainable seafood farming, and it can be applied progressively to the breeding, raising, and harvesting of fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants. The BIM Innovation Studio offers opportunities for companies in areas such as pharmaceuticals, marine engineering, genetics, feed additives and artificial intelligence.

Applications for the BIM Innovation Studio are open until 19 July 2024. The BIM Innovation Studio takes place from 30th September to 10th October at the River Lee Hotel, Cork City. Several companies will then be selected to pitch at the BIM Aquatech Conference on 11 October where the winner of the BIM Aquatech Business of the Year 2024 will also be announced.

“The BIM Aquatech Innovation Studio provides a springboard for aquatech innovations, connecting participants with industry experts, mentors, and investors worldwide,” said Jessica Giannoumis, Hatch Blue’s Aquatech Community Manager for Ireland. “Whether it’s sensor technology, alternative seafood solutions, or water management strategies, this is the ultimate opportunity to refine your aquatech vision.”

Eight to ten successful applicants will be matched with experienced mentors to further develop their business strategy, product or service. They will also have access to a global network of aquaculture technical experts.

Several companies involved in the 2023 Innovation Studio attended a delegation to Southeast Asia last year with Hatch to grow their network and learn more about their potential market.  The delegation has secured potential business opportunities on foot of this.

Aquamonitrix, a Carlow based company, 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 had previously participated in the BIM innovation Studio.

The Innovation Studio supports the ambitious goals set out in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s Food Vision 2030 Strategy, including to promote Ireland as a knowledge base for aquaculture technology and research and attract external investment into the sector.

Significant growth occurred in the seafood-tech sector over the last five years with the number of active companies growing from 42 in 2016 to 62 in 2021, according to BIM’s Business of Seafood 2022 report. Over this period employment in these companies increased from 517 in 2016 to 892 in 2021 while turnover increased from €86m in 2016 to €217m in 2021.

For further information and to apply here.