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A version of Ace Aquatec's HSU (humane stunner universal) in place at Selcoth trout farm near Moffat, Scotland. The HSU won the Innovation Award at Aqua Nor in Trondheim in 2017 and the company has supplied units - which are tailored to customer requirements - in several countries. Photo: Ace Aquatec.
A version of Ace Aquatec's HSU (humane stunner universal) in place at Selcoth trout farm near Moffat, Scotland. The HSU won the Innovation Award at Aqua Nor in Trondheim in 2017 and the company has supplied units - which are tailored to customer requirements - in several countries. Photo: Ace Aquatec.

Sustainable aquaculture fund Aqua-Spark has invested an undisclosed sum in Dundee-based fish farming technology supplier Ace Aquatec.

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The Netherlands-based fund was the primary investor in Ace Aquatec’s latest round of funding.

Ace Aquatec managing director Nathan Pyne-Carter said the investment would allow his firm to expand its operations across the globe, to increase its stock of rental equipment to better serve the needs of its expanding domestic and international rental customers, and to increase the number and scale of its R&D projects.

Nathan Pyne-Carter: Many benefits to choosing Aqua-Spark.
Nathan Pyne-Carter: Many benefits to choosing Aqua-Spark.

Portfolio companies

He said the firm would also benefit from working with Aqua-Spark’s portfolio of companies, which like Ace Aquatec were focused on providing sustainable solutions to aquaculture problems.

“Also, Aqua-Spark are in it for the long term. It is not like other investment companies who put money in and sell the company two or three years down the line,” added Pyne-Carter, who said the investment was preferable to borrowing.

Pyne-Carter said Ace Aquatec had some “quite big” R&D projects in the pipeline, two of which will be showcased at Aquaculture UK in Aviemore next year.

The firm’s products include in-water electric stunners, predator deterrents, and 3D biomass cameras. A sea lice removal system is under development.

Amy Novogratz:
Amy Novogratz: "We believe in Ace Aquatec's impact potential".

Animal welfare

Amy Novogratz and Mike Velings, co-founders of Aqua-Spark, said: “Ace Aquatec’s focus on developing technologies for responsible farming is paramount to increasing animal welfare in aquaculture, and an important part of Aqua-Spark’s mission.

“We believe in Ace Aquatec’s impact potential and look forward to supporting the company as it develops more innovative products and continues to expand its reach.” 

Netherlands-based Aqua-Spark invests from $250,000 upwards in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that meet its criteria for economic, environmental and social sustainability.

18 complementary SMEs

Since 2015, the fund has invested in 18 complementary SMEs and currently has €111.7 million in assets under management, dedicated to investments in elements of the aquaculture industry that will make fish farming sustainable

It does not seek controlling stakes, preferring to be a minority investor holding between 20-49%. “Every business we invest in is a reflection of our trust in the entrepreneur to lead their companies’ development and growth in the most effective way,” the fund sates on its website.

Aqua-Spark’s portfolio includes investments in CageEye, the Norwegian company that uses sonar to gather data on fish positioning in salmon cages, and insect farmer Protix.

The company also has an investment in Calysta, the US-based firm making fish feed protein by growing microbes by feeding them on methane. Calysta signed a deal with oil giant BP in June which brought in $30 million and gives the company access to gas and power at BP’s worldwide network of production sites.

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