WILMINGTON, N.C. -- Four North Carolina companies, including two with UNCW ties, are finalists who will present their ideas to promote a sustainable shellfish industry at the “Fish 2.0 Innovation Forum” for entrepreneurs Nov. 7-8, 2017, at Stanford University. Of the 40 finalists in the competition, which could lead to investment in their businesses as well as cash prizes, ShellTrak and ShellBond are Wilmington companies with ties to UNCW.
In March, UNCW and the Marine Bio-Technologies Center of Innovation hosted a Fish 2.0 workshop for entrepreneurs working to promote a sustainable shellfish industry through new technologies and business ventures. Four other Fish 2.0 finalists attended that workshop to polish their business models and presentations for the upcoming competition: The Sandbar Oyster Company of Morehead City; Kepley Biosystems of Greensboro; Gaskiya Diagnostics of Baltimore, MD.; and the Florida-based Pensacola Bay Oyster Company.
Eight of the 40 companies to reach the finals of this year’s Fish 2.0 competition are involved in, or have links to, the culture of bivalves – a measure of the innovative ideas emerging from, and being devoted to, the US shellfish farming sector.
“Oyster ventures are innovating and growing, markets are changing, and investors are beginning to realise the potential for investing in this sector,” says Fish 2.0 founder and director Monica Jain. “And this year – helped by having sponsored tracks from both the Southeast US and the Gulf Coast, and the Northeast US – there have been several strong contenders.”
She believes the number of bivalve-related businesses taking part in the competition is a reflection, at least in part, of the change in the demographics of an industry that’s traditionally been associated with older participants.
“Many of the oyster ventures that have entered the competition are being led by people in their 30s and 40s and are applying cutting-edge technology to both the production and marketing sides of the business,” she explains.
Just 40 companies remain in the US-based Fish 2.0 sustainable seafood competition and will pitch to investors, Nov. 7-8, at Stanford University, California, the organizers announced Tuesday.
“This is the strongest group ever,” said Monica Jain, the founder and executive director of the every-other-year competition, which started this time with 184 initial competitors and had been narrowed to 70 before the latest elimination round.
Among the remaining finalists are VakSea, a Baltimore, Maryland-based company that has come up with a new way to deliver vaccines to fish, and OneForNeptune, a company with offices in California and New Mexico that’s making jerky out of white fish offcuts. Undercurrent News took a look at both companies in an article last month.
FORTY companies have been named as finalists in this year’s Fish 2.0 competition, which aims to connect seafood businesses with investors.
The finalists, selected from 184 entries, have been selected for their market traction, global character and high potential for impact on the seafood sector, said the competition organisers.
They will now have the opportunity to pitch to investors during the Nov. 7–8 during the Fish 2.0 Innovation Forum at Stanford University from November 7-8, after which winners will be announced.
"This is the strongest group ever," said Monica Jain, Fish 2.0 founder and executive director. The level of innovation is potentially both system changing and very profitable.
"The finalists—winnowed from an initial pool of 184 entrants—stand out for their "market traction, global character and high potential for impact on the seafood sector."
Fish 2.0 on Monday released the names of 40 companies that will pitch their ideas to investors Nov. 7–8 during the Fish 2.0 Innovation Forum at Stanford University, the culminating event in the Fish 2.0 2017 competition for sustainable seafood businesses.
The finalists—winnowed from an initial pool of 184 entrants—stand out for their "market traction, global character and high potential for impact on the seafood sector," the group said. About 50 percent of the finalists are post-revenue businesses, and more than half are based outside the United States.
Investment competition founder talks innovation, competition and the financing aquaculture seeks for the future
If you sell, you’ve probably practiced your elevator pitch, that condensed, to-the-point message that sums up the most essential information about you, your business or the product or service you offer.
Perhaps you’ve polished this pitch in front of family or friends – or only a mirror – but delivering a succinct speech on stage, before hundreds of fellow professionals, with your career potentially on the line, is another matter entirely.
That’s essentially the situation for finalists at Fish 2.0, the biannual investment contest. Emerging seafood companies around the world come to Stanford University hoping to hook into a source of capital to grow their businesses by impressing a panel of expert judges. The competition’s founder, Monica Jain, has a long history of working in venture capital, banking and other aspects of finance, and has worked on financial plans for marine protected areas.
Nick Mendoza, the founder and CEO of NeptuneForOne, is working to convince whitefish processors in the US that there is a better return to be had for their offcuts than those gained from having them turned into animal feed, fertilizer or garbage. He wants instead to make them into jerky, a product that can be sold as a healthy snack, high in omega-3.
Mendoza's San Diego, California-based firm is one of 80 companies -- half the original field -- still vying for cash and other prizes in Fish 2.0, the every-other-year contest for innovations to improve the sustainability of seafood. It’s one of eight that would do so by reducing fish waste. All are hoping to identify potential business partners and investors.
Though the excesses of agricultural production and the food left on consumers’ plates are what most people think about when it comes to food waste, there is a lot of waste in seafood, Monica Jain, Fish 2.0’s San Francisco, California-based founder, told Undercurrent News in a recent interview.
Nevele, Belgium-based Tomalgae is on the cusp of launching a new algae product for oyster growers in Asia.
Called Thalapure Mollusca, the freeze dried algae formulation may be just the beginning of the algae company’s foray into the international oyster industry.
Tomalgae CEO William van der Riet declined to name the specific country of the launch, but he said the September plan—in time for the October growing season—is firm.
“We have a partner in Asia,” Riet told Undercurrent News.
He said the product can replace live algae production at hatcheries -- a work-intensive process that represents the majority of operational costs for oyster hatcheries. Hatcheries produce the larvae oyster growers need to begin the growout process.
'Green' approaches may be the best way to protect coastal communities from flooding associated with climate change.
To some people, climate change seems like a problem only for future generations. But for residents of many coastal cities, the future is already here — in the form of rising sea levels and frequent, destructive floods. And the problem is only going to get worse. The latest research suggests that by 2100, up to 60 percent of oceanfront communities on the East and Gulf Coasts of the U.S. may experience chronic flooding from climate change.
The fix for inundation might seem pretty simple: just erect tall seawalls and other barriers to keep the ocean at bay. But barriers can fail. Even when they don’t, they can have the unintended consequence of harming delicate coastal habitats and the animals that live in them.
A few years into Kentucky, US-based Alltech’s expansion into aquaculture feed company ownership, the producer of algae and other nutritional technologies for animal feeds is continuing to find ways to increase its direct access to aquaculture companies.
Through its acquisition of Dutch aquatic feed supplier Coppens International a year ago, Alltech gained direct ownership—for the first time—in a feed company. This added Coppens' 60 feed production operations around the world to Alltech's slate of assets, a major benefit for a company aiming to popularize the use of algae by feed companies.
Seafood industry supply chains are notorious for being long and opaque. Not for oyster growers, said Monica Jain, founder of the sustainable seafood investment competition Fish 2.0, who sees oysters as one of the most promising sectors represented in this year’s applicant pool.
“Most people [growers] are selling them direct,” Jain told Undercurrent News. She connects with oyster companies regularly through her biennial competition. This year, 161 entered for the chance to become one of the 40 finalists to present their sustainable seafood business ideas to a room of 300 attendees, including investors, at the finals in November.
At this point, "of the 80 contestants moving on to this year’s competition’s final rounds, more than a dozen are oyster companies", Jain said.
Media stories often cite Sandbar Oyster Company as an unlikely partnership between a scientist and a fisherman — a successful duo not only in the half-shell market, but also in ecological restoration.
“He’s not my normal consideration of what a scientist would be like.” That’s how fisherman David Cessna, better known simply as Clammerhead, describes Niels Lindquist in a WRAL-TV story.
A closer look reveals the collaboration is not so surprising. A few years back, they were part of an applied research team studying N.C. fisheries and habitats. Administered by North Carolina Sea Grant, those research projects required one or more partners from the fishing industry.
MOREHEAD CITY – A new design of artificial oyster reef-maker could buck the trend on where living shorelines best work.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Institute of Marine Sciences, or IMS, are introducing a type of reef that may withstand high-energy wave action areas typically deemed unsuitable for natural shoreline stabilization.
Living shoreline projects are built with various structural and organic materials such as plants, submerged aquatic vegetation, oyster shells and stone. They generally work best along sheltered coasts such as estuaries, bays, lagoons and coastal deltas, where wave energy is low to moderate.
This month, researchers will put to the test a series of reef platforms that are going to be installed as part of what is, to date, the longest state-permitted living shoreline project in North Carolina.
Pensacola Bay Oyster Co. won the top prize winner at this year's Innovation Awards.
"It feels fantastic," said Donnie McMahon, president and co-founder of the company. "It really does. It was an honor to be selected and a great honor to move the company ahead in what we're trying to do in Northwest Florida."
The Innovation Awards, held this week at the Hilton Pensacola Beach hotel, are a competition that serves as a funding opportunity similar to the TV show "Shark Tank." Divided into four business categories — post-revenue, pre-revenue, veteran and student — 61 startup companies applied to this year’s competition. Judges whittled down the applicants to the best three in each category, and those companies presented their business plans Thursday.
The East Coast was literally built on oysters. At the peak of their production as a food source, these shellfish were so plentiful from the Gulf Coast to New England that discarded shells were crushed and used to pave roads. Oysters kept bays and waterways clean—Chesapeake Bay residents didn’t need to treat or filter their water. A 1913 National Geographic article proclaimed them “the world’s most valuable water crop,” cultivated as a year-round, dependable and inexpensive protein source. About 150,000 people in 35 countries worked to produce “the most popular and most extensively eaten of all shellfish.”
The situation more than a century later is quite different. Oysters remain desirable, but populations have been decimated. The Gulf of Mexico has just 10 percent of its peak oyster population, and Chesapeake Bay is down to a mere 1 percent. The situation has been described as dire by many locals, who’ve seen dredging, overharvesting and disease destroy oyster habitats.
Encouraging collaboration between scientists and business has always been a prime mission at the MARBIONC Center. We were pleased to recently host an event aimed specifically at small start-ups in the seafood and aquaculture industries, which of course ties in directly with our marine science research.
The Fish 2.0 organization’s first regional workshop in the southeastern United States was held here, on our CREST Research Park campus, March 15 through 17. Nearly two dozen fledgling enterprises from a 12-state region attended, making connections and gaining skills needed to attract investors and grow their businesses.
Entrepreneurs with shellfish-related ventures in the 12-state Southeastern U.S. region have until April 29 to apply for a competition intended to give winners a toehold in the sustainable seafood market.
Fish 2.0, founded by executive director Monica Jain, uses a competition platform to connect seafood innovators, investors and industry experts so that promising ventures can find funding and knowledge resources.
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Oysters, crab, shrimp, lobster and scallops were on the menu at this week’s Fish 2.0 South Atlantic & Gulf Coast Shellfish Workshop, hosted by University of North Carolina Wilmington at the university’s MARBIONC facility.
Fish 2.0, founded by executive director Monica Jain, uses a competition platform to connect seafood innovators, investors and industry experts so that promising ventures could find funding and knowledge resources.
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Tucked away in a warehouse just south of downtown Greenville, marine biologist Valeska Minkowski has been quietly incubating a food source that’s typically found thousands of miles away off the coast of California: Pacific white shrimp.
In June, Minkowski started an indoor shrimp farm called Urban Seas Aquaculture. It’s a big change of pace for the scientist who once spent her summers reintroducing long-spined sea urchins to coral reefs off the coast of Florida.
Now Minkowski is part of a small, yet growing group of American farmers trying to feed the country’s seemingly insatiable appetite for shrimp and other seafood, without damaging coastal ecosystems and using harmful chemicals.