From Innovation to Impact: How the Blue Food Innovation Summit helped innovators spotlight their solutions and drive meaningful impact in their investment journey.
We were delighted to catch up with representatives of three successful start-ups, Aquarech, Aquanzo and Seavolution who presented their enterprising solutions as part of the Blue Food Innovation Summit’s Start-Up Showcase in 2023. Since the summit, Aquarech made headlines after closing a $1.7mn USD investment to develop Kenya’s first ever fish farming platform, Aquanzo announced plans to scale-up their land-based Artemia production for the aquafeed market, and Seavolution managed to successfully showcase and scale their plant-based seafood products to high-level audience.
Read on to find out more as they detail their experiences since the summit in 2023, what they look forward to in 2024 and their key strategies to attract investment:
Tell us a bit more about your innovation and how does it aid transformation in the blue food space?
“The expansion of the ingredient basket to support the sustainable development of aquaculture is one of the main challenges facing this industry. How can we do more with less? Produce more without increasing the pressure on the natural environment? Aquanzo is developing technologies to pioneer the transition from harvesting to farming marine ingredients, without harming the Ocean. We will be raising our next funding round in 2024 and are looking forward to engaging with investors and patterns at the next edition of the Blue Food Innovation Summit,” explains Remi Gratacap, Founder and CEO at AQUANZO.
David Okech, Founder and CEO at AQUARECH explains, “Our innovation seeks to build an inclusive and sustainable blue food sector by tackling some of the barriers that have slowed down growth of the sector such as lack of access to finance, high fragmentation etc. We expect to reach about 5000 small and medium sized fish farmers with our products and services by end of 2024.”
Carlos Ulloa, COO at SEAVOLUTION shares, “Our innovation in technology is a fundamental part of the future of the ‘blue-food’ world. Major companies are beginning to realize that alternative proteins are not just a “fad” but a necessity for the future of healthy world food. Our next step is to get funding to scale up to mass production and reach large distributors with our 7 high quality MVPs.”
What value did the Blue Food Innovation Summit provide last year?
David underlines the exposure provided by the summit as its greatest value, “The Blue Food Innovation Summit gave us exposure to investor’s world in the sector. During the summit, I met the Aquaspark team who then had planned to invest in us to build the first ever Aquatech platform in Africa. Moreover, we just closed our seed round fundraising of $1.7M, the first ever for a Aquatech platform in Africa.”
“The Blue Food Innovation Summit is the most important gathering of thought leaders, investors and industry centred around the Blue Food sector under one roof. Having had the opportunity to present our startup’s vision and mission has been an amazing catapult to our trajectory. We have since then been very successful with grants as well as collaboration with industry leaders. Having all the main players in the same room has allowed us to within a very short time connect with most of them,” Remi says.
Highlighting the incredible opportunities present at the summit, Carlos states,“The summit was an incredible opportunity for Seavolution, we introduced ourselves to a new community, made high-level corporate contacts from different parts of the world and allowed us to surprise a traditional market segment that didn’t know much about our products, they were really amazed!”
Any key tips and strategies for emerging start-ups looking to attract investments in the blue food value chain?
Remi believes that the blue food space has great potential for innovation but needs to address existing environmental risks first, “Addressing the most pressing problems with a long term solution driven by first principles is key to creating an impactful company and supporting the sustainable development of aquaculture and Blue Food.”
Focusing on targeted strategies to different actors in the value chain, David advises, “The blue food value chain has a huge unexploited potential. The sector is young and provides an opportunity for innovations to thrive by addressing some of the unique challenges. My advice would that one needs to tap into the sector through a value chain led process and that could mean bringing different value chain actors together because challenges of the sector are in each value chain node which makes it difficult to focus on one point while leaving the rest.”
Sharing his secret formula to an outstanding pitch, Carlos mentions, “You have to leave fear behind! Work hard, don’t give up, have an excellent product, a very good pitch, knock on the right doors and above all talk to people, tell them every story and hear theirs, no matter if they are big corporates or a future client, everyone has something to teach and contribute.”
Remi, David and Carlos showcased their solutions as part of the Start-Up Showcase and Start-Up Exhibition at the Blue Food Innovation Summit in 2023. To explore start-up opportunities and discover how you can get involved with the Blue Food Innovation Summit – click here.