Hatch is inviting startups to apply for the fourth cohort of its aquaculture-focused accelerator program.
It’s looking for eight to 10 companies from anywhere in the world, at seed or pre-seed stage, to join the 15-week program. Applicants should have a team of at least two people who can communicate in the English language, are able to dedicate 100% of their time to the business, and who have at least developed an initial proof of concept.
Successful applicants will get $130,000 funding — $75,000 will be in cash, with the remainder in kind to cover costs of the program — plus access to Hatch’s mentor network of over 100 experts from the corporate, science, technology, and entrepreneurial fields.
Interested teams need to be working on innovative, scalable, and sustainable tech solutions for the aquaculture space. That means startups working with aquaculture applications in mind, as well as teams currently focussed on other areas who feel their tech may have compelling uses in aquaculture.
While some previous graduates from Hatch’s program are natives to the aquaculture space, talents from outside are welcome and needed in the drive to make the industry more sustainable, says Moritz Mueller, head of marketing and communications at Hatch.
“We realised that bringing a lot of the skillsets and concepts from tech into aquaculture could greatly benefit the industry and improve its sustainability,” he says, explaining the original intent behind Hatch.
The idea for the accelerator was a simple one: that aquaculture has the potential to become one of the most sustainable ways of producing food available to the world.
Launching the accelerator in late 2017, Hatch co-founders Georg Baunach, Carsten Krome, and Wayne Murphy saw that the industry already achieved huge volume in terms of production – with around 53% of the world’s seafood derived from aquaculture. But they also saw that the industry was held back by a chronic lack of efficiency and innovation.
“The first order of sustainability is decreasing resource use per unit by increasing the efficiency in production,” Mueller says. To do that, Hatch had to look beyond the bounds of traditional aquaculture.
“We found companies who had never looked at aquaculture before – and we were able to demonstrate that what they were doing in their market […] could be applied in our market, with a potentially larger customer base,” he says. “While natives from the aquaculture space are always a great gain for us, there are benefits that come with an IT skillset or great business management skills, which are still lacking in aquaculture. So when we can pull in talent from other industries, that is fantastic.”
Hatch has invested in 30 companies since launching in 2017. Among the most recognisable names to graduate from its program is Jala, an Indonesian startup providing analytics hardware and software for the shrimp farming industry, which went on to raise seed funding from 500 startups, Hatch, and Conservation International Ventures last year.
Another is Montana Microbial, which has signed a multi-million dollar licensing deal for its plant-based fish feed derived from barley protein concentrate. Silicon Valley-based Finless Foods, which has grabbed headlines for its cell-grown bluefin tuna meat, is also a Hatch graduate.
Each of these has benefited from Hatch’s close relationships with industry movers and shakers and its hand-on approach to acceleration, and successful applicants to the fourth cohort can expect the same, Mueller says.
“Our program runs for 15 weeks and we accompany [cohort members] with a 10-person, full-time team covering all the different angles of expertise that they need. Our team comes from all over the world, and everyone has run at least one accelerator program before, in addition to holding relevant professional and academic qualifications for his or her field. This is no blind flight,” he says.
“We offer a lot of hands-on experience, getting to know the corporates as well as the smaller farmers in their countries of origin. We take people to Indonesia to give them deep insights into how shrimp and tilapia are farmed, visit salmon farms in Norway, and work out of NELHA [the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority] in Hawaii, which is the aquaculture equivalent to NASA.”
NELHA – and its deepwater testing facilities – is just one of the stops on the world tour of aquaculture hubs that successful Hatch applicants can look forward to.
The cohort will also get to spend time in Bergen, the ‘Silicon Valley of salmon’ and home to the Norwegian Centres of Expertise Seafood Innovation Cluster, and Singapore, the gateway to Asia’s $219 billion aquaculture industry, which provides 90% of the world’s farmed seafood, according to the UN’s Food & Agriculture Organization. They’ll participate in a demo day in each of the three locations.
Obviously, movement restrictions put in place to combat the Covid-19 pandemic may mean that Hatch and its successful accelerator applicants will have to prepare for a slightly different 2020 cohort.
“It’s difficult to say if we’ll be able to travel to the three locations in 2020,” Mueller says. “We will make a final decision on that by the end of May. [Even if we can’t travel] we will still invest, and do a reduced program in 2020 through an online presence, and run the on-site part in early 2021.”
“Every company that joins us this year will still get the full package. Travel might be delayed, but they’ll still get to see all the locations and meet everybody they want to meet,” he confirms.
And as if all that wasn’t enough, successful applicants also get the chance to secure follow-on funding, not just from investors and corporates attending the three demo days, but also from Hatch’s own $8.4 million investment fund.
*This is a sponsored article from Hatch, an AgFunder Network Partner. Find out more here.*