Nutreco backs technology tackling viral shrimp diseases

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock/vencavolrab
© iStock/vencavolrab
Nutreco has taken a stake in Israeli startup, ViAqua, as part of its strategy to invest in innovation aimed at combatting disease in the aquaculture industry.

ViAqua has developed an orally administered particle-based platform to improve resistance against viral diseases that attack shrimp and other aquaculture species.

The Dutch company says it has taken “a meaningful minority share [in ViAqua] that will conditionally grow over time.”

Founded four years ago, ViAqua uses a proprietary particle to disable viral infections. Other shareholders in the company include The Trendlines and the Technion – the Israeli Institute of Technology, both based in Israel.

Viggo Halseth, Nutreco’s chief innovation officer, said ViAqua’s technology has convincing proof-of-concept.  

Nutreco said its aquaculture division, Skretting, given its expertise in feed application and its reach in shrimp markets globally, will work with ViAqua to bring the technology to market.

Investment platform

Speaking to this publication at the end of May, Halseth said the Dutch company had been busy identifying, developing and investing in next generation, sustainable products, models and services throughout the feed and food protein value chain, and has set up a platform – Nutreco NuFrontiers – to drive that.

“We want to invest in start-ups that have relevant ingredients for Trouw Nutrition or Skretting or digital solutions that could strengthen our technical services.”

The company is hoping to invest in three to five products or technologies per year.

In April this year, Nutreco took a 25% share in Eruvaka, an India-based Internet of Things (IoT) company that develops connected devices and mobile-based decision tools aimed at helping shrimp farmers increase productivity.

“Start-ups are one area, but we also want to build positions through joint ventures in the value chain we are in, but outside the scope of Trouw Nutrition and Skretting.

“We are looking at really new and innovative processes,” ​said Halseth.

Last year, Nutreco took a 40% stake in the project ‘Aquantum Leap’ a closed containment farming model being run by Norwegian company, Seafarming Systems. It is aimed at promoting cost effective salmon production that also overcomes biological and environmental challenges.

Another project it has got involved in is aimed at creating more space for farming, based on a re-purposed ‘jack up’ drilling oil rig, surrounded by submersible fish cages. Norway’s Roxel Aqua is developing this concept for offshore salmon farming, and has applied for 14 development licenses.

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