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Applications are now open for a new programme designed to connect high-potential New Zealand businesses with contacts and opportunities in the global aquaculture industry.

The Global innovation launchpad for New Zealand aquaculture, led by Hatch Innovation Services in partnership with NZTE, is designed to empower New Zealand companies with top-quality coaching and networking to help them scale up and maximise their potential in the global aquaculture market.

Firms can apply directly online, with applications open until 22 April.

Successful applicants to the programme will have access to mentorship from key aquaculture players, as well as tailored training and support designed to help refine their business value proposition and market their products on a global scale.

Planning is also underway to cap off the programme with a visit to the world’s largest aquaculture trade show, AquaNor, in Norway in August 2023, offering participants a chance to engage directly with elite companies and organisations across the global aquaculture industry.

This year’s launchpad programme follows a successful pilot in 2022 which supported four businesses from Aotearoa New Zealand (Snap Information Technologies, Boss Aqua, Cerebus Marine and Waikaitu Limited) to expand their business outreach in the global aquaculture market.

“Working with the team at Hatch as part of the NZTE new market project was helpful,” says Chris Rodley, CEO and founder of Snap Information Technologies, a startup working on AI-based imaging technology for the seafood industry.

“Snap was able to develop our customer and business model, test and collaborate with the other companies in the programme and the Hatch team and then pitch significant businesses in the Hatch network. This was an invaluable process and was material in refining our go to market strategy in the aquaculture space. If you are looking to develop a high growth business and launch a product in the aquaculture space, I would recommend working in the Hatch programme as early as you can.”

Any New Zealand business that has proof of concept for a scalable, innovative technology for sustainable aquaculture, and is looking to prepare for market entry, can apply to be part of the programme. This includes businesses from the wider agritech industry and innovation community who are new to aquaculture but see potential to apply their expertise.

“New Zealand has an impressive track record in terms of producing tech and innovation in the wider marine sector, and its emerging companies are well-placed to support the more resilient production of aquatic foods – both domestically and internationally – thereby increasing global food security,” Tanja Hoel, director of Hatch Innovation Services, commented in an initial announcement on Hatch’s partnership with NZTE.

Speaking at the programme’s online launch event, Hoel outlined the potential for aquaculture to address global food challenges, including three critical gaps – in calorie production, agricultural land area and greenhouse gas mitigation – that must be closed in order to feed 10 billion people sustainably by 2050.

With protein consumption expected to double by 2050, and seafood representing one of the fastest-growing forms of protein production, aquaculture represented an estimated $1.1 trillion ten-year growth opportunity, with the potential to support climate-friendly protein production, climate change mitigation and regenerative food systems, Hoel said.

Specific market opportunities for New Zealand innovation included next-generation and regenerative systems for farming fish, seaweed and bivalves; nutrition; enabling technology; health and genetics; alternative seafood; and solutions for financing, logistics and cold chains.

The launchpad programme forms part of NZTE’s work in support of the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan (ITP), which aims to grow the agritech sector towards contributing $8 billion to the New Zealand economy by 2030. Government support for the Agritech ITP is led by MBIE with support from MPI, NZTE and Callaghan Innovation, working alongside key industry body AgriTech New Zealand.

The programme also dovetails with the New Zealand Government’s Aquaculture Strategy, which includes actions to promote investment in innovation and to accelerate the development of new technologies that support sustainability and productivity in aquaculture.

Businesses wanting to learn more about the global aquaculture industry can also join a series of educational webinars running during the application period for the programme. These will focus on:

Applications for the launchpad programme, and registrations for all three webinars, can be found online via the programme webpage.

Glenn Baker

Glenn is a professional writer/editor with 50-plus years’ experience across radio, television and magazine publishing.


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