News & Events

Calling All Innovators! Hatch Sustainable Aquaculture Accelerator Sets Sights on Hawaii

May 30, 2019

There is a lot of excitement buzzing around the Hawaii aquaculture industry as Hatch, the world’s first sustainable aquaculture accelerator, searches for its third cohort of startups and prepares for its kick off at NELHA on the Big Island. CTSA had the opportunity to speak with Hatch Co-Founder and COO Wayne Murphy to learn more about this innovative program—which just won an ‘International Impact’ award at the 2019 Aquaculture Awards—and its potential to stimulate our local aquaculture industry.

“We are very happy to be in Hawaii developing aquaculture talent, and we’ve got a really big mission to deliver here,” exclaimed Mr. Murphy. “We are looking to help develop and support Hawaii’s indigenous talent. We want to invest in Hawaiian technology and Hawaiian entrepreneurs who are involved in aquaculture.”

The purpose behind the Hatch accelerator, which started with its first cohort in April 2018, is to provide participating startups with resources and a global perspective of aquaculture so they are able to meet industry demands and hone/scale their technology to drive their own success.

“NELHA is the perfect place for our startups to engage with aquaculture farms and really learn first hand the challenges they have, and maybe tweak their technologies to deliver solutions to known problems,” stated Mr. Murphy.

The third Hatch cohort will begin this August and spend the bulk of its time at NELHA before traveling to the aquaculture hub of Bergen Norway, where salmon production runs into the tens of billions of dollars. After Norway, the teams will travel to Singapore, home to the world’s largest seafood market and a melting pot of cultures and technologies. This rotation helps to provide companies with a well-rounded service.

A key aspect of the accelerator is helping startups raise funds. According to Mr. Murphy, the first Hatch cohort has been able to raise over $7 million in funding in just over one year because “this opportunity makes them visible and gives them a platform to attract investors.” Each participating company also receives 100,000 euros from Hatch to help them scale up and network their business. Half of the money is presented as a cash investment and the remaining half as in-kind support in the form of training, networking, marketing, etc. This support is critical for the startups, as many do not come from a traditional aquaculture setting.

“There are many different technologies that are not currently used in aquaculture that can have application in aquaculture,” stated Mr. Murphy. The Hatch accelerator is the perfect place to incubate these technologies. One startup from the second Hatch cohort was originally a human health services company that was encouraged to ‘pivot’ and apply their proprietary technology to aquaculture; they are now working to eradicate sea lice on salmon farms, and just won the ‘Best New Entrant’ award at the 2019 Aquaculture Awards in Europe.

“I don’t believe all the problems that exist in aquaculture are going to be solved by fish nutritionists or marine biologists,” continued Mr. Murphy. “A lot of them are going to be solved by engineers, computer scientists, data analysts, and a host of different disciplines. What Hatch is trying to do is attract these people and point them towards aquaculture, which is very much a growing sector globally.”

During the first cohort, a startup led by a computer scientist and a coder/data analyst originally set out to enhance oyster production in the Chesapeake Bay. However, after joining Hatch and meeting with farmers in different regions of the world, they decided to switch their focus to salmon production. They are now working with farms to collect, analyze, and present data in a simple way that is proving very impactful for the salmon farmers of Norway.

The program is currently recruiting businesses and individuals for its third cohort, set to begin in August 2019. Applications to participate in the third cohort close at the end of June, and any interested businesses or individuals should visit the following link for more information: https://www.hatch.blue/apply/