15 bright ideas reach round two of Aquaculture Innovation Challenge

After the first round of the Aquaculture Innovation Challenge (AIC), hosted by Seafood Trade Intelligence Portal (STIP), Solidaridad and Fresh Studio, 15 innovation plans have been chosen for round two. Successful entries included those addressing issues of sustainable feed, environmental monitoring and control systems, among others.

Aquaculture Innovation Challenge

The judges expressed interest in a participant’s idea of using insects, rather than fish, as a protein source for aquaculture feed. It promises to be a more sustainable alternative. They were also impressed with a proposed low-cost, wind-powered pond aeration system that is easy to maintain and improves farm outputs by increasing oxygen levels in the water.

Preparing for the pitch

Along with qualifying points, the contestants will receive professional feedback from the judges, which will allow them to prepare for the far more rigorous event on 27 April. Those that make it through this challenge will advance to the boot camp phase of the AIC, which will be hosted by Fresh Studio in June. While there will be an overall competition winner, all of the contestants that reach the boot camp will have the opportunity to pitch their innovation to potential investors working within the seafood sector.

There was a great turnout from Vietnam-based innovators who submitted almost half of the 27 initial entries. There were also applications from India, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Israel, and the US.

All innovations for Vietnamese sector welcome

The competition was open to proposals for innovations at several stages of development. While introducing the design category, Willem van der Pijl, director of STIP, said, “A scientist with a brilliant idea may not have fully developed the business and financial aspects, but we don’t want to exclude those ideas. We think that eventually these ideas may be developed into successful innovations for the future”.

Innovations submitted for the demonstration and upscaling categories are further along in the development process, several of which have been put in practice. They tend to have a strong business plan and a proven track record of impact, needing only assistance with further development and upscaling.

More aquaculture systems design innovations desired

Nguyễn Văn Khánh, representing De Heus as the Aqua Asia business development manager said that, while he was generally happy about the proposals that went through to the second round, he had hoped that there would be more proposals in the design category. He expressed interest in seeing innovations that are more related to “aquaculture system design; like pond construction, equipment etc. That is still in short for development for Vietnam aquaculture.”

Diverse professional jury

The jury is comprised of members with a wide range of backgrounds, including science, civil society, business and finance. Each category was assigned one judge from each of these backgrounds. This was done to ensure innovations that make it to the final round are scientifically sound, marketable innovations for the Vietnamese aquaculture industry that benefit society and/or the environment. The varying expertise of the judges makes them perfectly suited to analyze opportunities and steer development.

Investors welcome to discover proposals first hand

While the entry dates for innovations have passed, there is still opportunity for investors to get involved either immediately as a sponsor, or later, at the pitching event. Investors attending the pitching event will be the first to see what happens when brilliant minds are combined with experience, knowledge and the spirit of competition.

Learn more about Solidaridad’s global aquaculture programme.