Galway company on verge of breakthrough with new deep tech to tackle global scourge of sea lice in fish farming

Margaret Rae, Konree Innovation, Galway. Photo: Mike Shaughnesssy


Award-winning aquatech start-up, Konree Innovation, is starting to make waves with its ground-breaking deep science-led technology aimed at eliminating the age-old problem of sea lice in salmon and fish farming.

The founder of the company, Margaret Rae, has revealed that the company is pitching for a a €1 million investment round with the Halo Business Angel Network and Venture Capital Investment Funds.  It is also poised to receive funding support from the Enterprise Ireland High Potential Start Up fund.

The new technology being developed by Konree will be able to detect sea lice in the salmon pen. Sea Lice are small parasites that cling on to the host fish and feed from its tissue. According to Rae, this costs the global salmon production industry between €3 billion and €4 billion annually.

“Everything is going in the right direction, and we are very excited about what the rest of the year will bring,” she said. “This will be a game changer in the salmon production industry. The solution we are developing to control sea lice is a drop-in solution, designed from the start to be a sustainable non-polluting technology. The salmon farmer does not have to invest in any special infrastructure to support it.”

Konree Innovation has employed two new staff members bringing the number of staff to 4 and is currently developing its phase 2 prototype with improvements on the original.

A background in chemistry, biochemistry and marine science inspired Margaret to work towards eliminating the age-old problem of sea lice in fish farming. She founded Konree Innovation in 2021. Michael Flynn is cofounder and CTO, he previously cofounded the world’s leading sub-sea imaging and measurement company and was its former CTO.

A turning point for Margaret was taking part in the BIM Aquatech Innovation Studio, delivered by aquaculture accelerator Hatch Blue, in 2022.

The seventh year of the programme, which is open to both Irish and EU projects involved in the aquaculture technology arena, takes place again from 30 September to 11 October at the River Lee Hotel, Cork City. Applications are still open and can be made here.

“It was a brilliant experience and I would recommend any young aquatech company to apply” said Margaret. “We had two weeks of really intense work every day from nine to five.  It was a great litmus test for the business, and made me ask vital questions such as what is the market for this technology? Will I attract investment? What is the supply chain in aquaculture? Is this a hobby or a business?”

She said the Innovation Studio also attracted experienced and inspiring speakers, and the entire supply chain in aquaculture was represented. “There were also investors who gave fantastic advice about what they are looking for in deciding to commit to an aquatech business. At the end of the day, they want a return on their money. The Innovation Studio was the reality check all start-ups taking part needed.”

Margaret said while there are various treatments for sea lice, there is no single permanent treatment. “It is the one thing from a biological perspective that is holding the industry back from growing. The technology we are developing has the potential for a huge global reach. It is not unique to Ireland.”

Margaret is hoping to do trials of the new technology this year in Norway at a private R&D facility.

Potential markets for the Konree Innovation technology are countries with a big salmon producing industry including Norway, Chile, Scotland, Canada, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, New Zealand and Australia and Ireland.

“The Innovation Studio was a great first step. It connected me to the sector globally. Afterwards we were part of a visit to Norway to see how advanced their technology is there. Norway is the global leader producing about 50 per cent of Atlantic salmon and key influencer in aquaculture geerally.”