Feed innovators among candidates vying for top prize in contest aimed at boosting Indonesian shrimp production

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Shrimp farming in Indonesia Photo Credit: © GettyImages
Shrimp farming in Indonesia Photo Credit: © GettyImages
Some 17 companies have been selected from an original 56 applicants for the next round of the Aquaculture Innovation Challenge (AIC); the objective of the contest is the sustainable development of the shrimp sector in Indonesia.

This is the second edition of the innovation challenge​, with the Vietnamese aquaculture sector the focus of the inaugural contest, run in 2017.

The competition, which had a kick-off event in January in Jakarta, looks to connect companies to knowledge, networks, finance and capital.

US single cell protein developer, KnipBio, is among the 17 companies that made it to Round two of the challenge. Along with feed related innovation, the shortlisted concepts focus on disease mitigation or farm management.

“The successful applicants are now in the process of writing up their business plan," ​said Yemi Ademiluyi, spokesperson for the Seafood Trade Intelligence Portal (TIP), one of the organizers of the competition, along with Solidaridad Indonesia, Fresh Studio and IPB.

The applicants have to comprehensively demonstrate the impact of their innovation on sustainable development of shrimp production in the South East Asian nation. 

"The participants will have to argue, in their business plans, why, and more specifically, how their innovation is going to work for Indonesia."

The bar is raised as the candidates have to get, at least, 75 out of 100 points to at least be in with a chance of proceeding to the final stage – the boot camp in June, which involves business coaching and live pitches, he told us.  And only five companies will make the cut.

Their innovation can be either at the idea stage, partially developed but not fully conceptualized or it can be at a much more advanced development phase, whereby it already has been shown to be technically and financially feasible.

The AIC jury and business coaches comprise a raft of industry professionals - experts from financial institutions, shrimp related businesses, government institutions, universities, and NGOs. 

"The idea has always been to have a wide range of perspectives, not just people coming from one sector."

Investors, for example, can guide participants by telling them what they typically look for when backing ventures, what makes them sit up and pay attention to a particular innovation, but also what they tend to avoid, he continued. 

The organizers also made sure, he said, that there were Indonesian and foreign individuals on the judging panel so as to have specialists on board who understood the local industry needs.

"Part of what the participants are being judged on is how accessible their innovation is for small and medium farming enterprises in terms of the cost, and the technical knowledge required."

Indonesian shrimp sector

The Indonesian shrimp sector is very diverse, comprising many different species, types of farmer and production systems from extensive shrimp ponds in Kalimantan, to polyculture ponds in Sumatra and semi-intensive and intensive shrimp ponds, in various locations around the country.

One of the world's largest shrimp exporting countries, with Japan, the US, and the EU taking much of its export volume, the position of Indonesia, however, has been declining in recent years, with it outnumbered by Thailand, China, and Vietnam, as per a 2018 study​.

Still, the Indonesian government and industry have set ambitious growth targets, aiming to hit 600,000 tons production by 2020, according to a presentation at the GOAL conference in 2018.

Indeed, the organizers chose to concentrate on the shrimp industry in Indonesia, as they believe it to be one of that country's most viable business sectors, and they see innovation as an essential way to enable that targeted expansion to be sustainable, added Ademiluyi.

Prizes on offer 

Ultimately, there are two prizes up for grabs.

The winner of the production innovation category will be awarded a cash prize of US$50,000 and admission to the Hatch Blue accelerator program. One member of that winning team will also receive a travel pack and the opportunity to attend and present their innovation at the GOAL 2019 conference in Chennai, India.

The victor in the consumer value category will receive a cash prize of US$10,000 along with a travel pack to allow one representative to present at the GOAL 2019 event.

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