“When you improve fish welfare, you solve many bigger problems as well.”
(SAN FRANCISCO and BERGEN – July 13, 2022) – Aquabyte, which uses computer vision and AI to give fish farms unprecedented insight into the health, growth, and sustainability of their fish, today announced the completion of its Series B financing of $25 million. The round was led by SoftBank Ventures Asia and will be used to continue Aquabyte’s mission of transforming aquaculture to meet the world’s demand for sustainable protein.
Why is farmed fish a solution to sustainable protein?
- Global overfishing has caused both freshwater and ocean fish populations to plummet to unsustainable levels.
- By 2050, it is estimated there will be a 50% protein gap worldwide. Farmed fish is the most sustainable and efficient protein source to fill that gap.
- Accordingly, fish farming is the fastest growing sector of food production in the world, accounting for over half of fish consumed today and over a quarter trillion dollars of annual production globally.
Aquabyte has built international, cross-disciplinary teams working at the intersection of fish welfare, AI, and groundbreaking engineering, using best practices drawn from world-renowned salmon farms in Norway.
“Before Aquabyte, it was virtually impossible for fish farms to monitor the health of their underwater fish. Our engineering team solved that problem with a smart underwater camera that can accurately detect lice, monitor other welfare indicators, and identify and weigh individual fish without removing them from the water,” said Bryton Shang, Aquabyte Founder and CEO.
“Our fish welfare biologists work with our AI teams to transform those images and underwater signals into real-time data. We also partner with farms to give them insights they’ve never had before, which helps them make better decisions. Farms can take immediate action to improve the health and growth of their fish with less waste and fewer treatments,” Shang added.
Sherman Li, Partner at SoftBank Ventures Asia, noted that Aquabyte’s approach, team, and results played a key role in its investment. “By combining machine learning and computer vision with fish welfare insights, Aquabyte is leading a transformation in the aquaculture and food industry. We are proud to support their journey as their achievements align with our mission of helping build a sustainable future, globally.”
The Nature Conservancy (through its Office of Investments) and Westerly Winds also joined the round as new investors, along with an international celebrity who prefers not to be named.
Karim Abdel-Ghaffar Plaza, Managing Partner at Westerly Winds, a venture capital group founded by former BlackRock execs, said, “We firmly believe embracing technology is the solution for a more sustainable future. Aquabyte in our opinion is a clear leader, enabling the path towards a healthier aquaculture industry needed to feed the growing world population. We’re tremendously excited to be backing the team and business in the years to come.”
Original investors New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Costanoa Ventures, ArcTern Ventures, Struck Capital, and Alliance Venture participated in the round, pointing to Aquabyte’s achievements since its Series A funding in 2019:
- Hundreds of systems worldwide monitoring salmon and trout
- Established offices in USA, Norway, and Chile
- Processed over 300 million unique fish images, delivering lice counts, growth, weight, and other welfare indicators, without handling or harming the fish
- First to receive approval by dispensation for automatic sea lice counting by the Norwegian Food Safety Authorities
“Since our first seed investment in Aquabyte, we’ve known they had the vision to transform an industry and do aquafarming more sustainably,” said Greg Sands, Founder and Managing Partner of Costanoa Ventures. “Their growth since then is proof their vision provides real value to an entire industry and is helping transform it.”
“Mass market appeal and the potential for positive global impact make for very exciting investment opportunities—Aquabyte has both,” said Greg Papadopoulos, Venture Partner at NEA. “Aquaculture is a $240B growing market and Aquabyte’s solution not only utilizes AI and ML technology to increase fish farming efficiency, the company is also playing a key role in increasing sustainability and minimizing waste for fish farms across the globe. We’re thrilled to continue partnering with the Aquabyte team to through this next phase of growth.”
With this Series B round of funding, Aquabyte has raised a total of $46 million since its founding in 2017. Aquabyte will use this financing to scale its business, monitoring more species in more countries, to help fish farms sustainably and efficiently feed the world.
Aquabyte is proud of its role in helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in aquaculture, reducing waste and improving efficiency and profitability.
“It turns out that when you improve fish welfare and sustainability, you solve problems in efficiency and production as well,” Shang said.
Aquabyte was built at the intersection of fish welfare, computer vision/AI, and engineering, to improve fish farming efficiency and sustainability. Its international team of machine learning experts, entrepreneurs, and aquaculture biologists are focused on delivering solutions with a real-world impact. With offices in San Francisco, New York, Chile, and Norway, Aquabyte partners with fish farms to transform aquaculture and meet the world’s growing demand for sustainable protein. Read more