The company was founded by Japanese-born Brian Tsuyoshi Takeda, who emigrated to Canada as a child and has been living in western Norway with his Norwegian wife for the last 6 years. Based in Norway, it also has activities in Japan and was founded with assistance from Innovation Norway, while it has also worked closely with the research institute Nofima on the development of special urchin diets.
“The agreement demonstrates the value our specialist expertise. Sea urchin farming is so far not that big in Norway, but we see now that foreign companies are taking more and more interest, so it is important that we are ready for commercialization,” said Nils Haga, CEO of Nofima's aquaculture division.
“Urchinomics’s journey from idea to market is a fine example of how research results are exploited for innovations in enterprises, supported by Innovation Norway. The combination of a commercial solution that hits the high quality markets and sustainable production methods makes the project unique,” says Svein Berg, regional director for the Americas at Innovation Norway.
The signing of the pilot project between Urchinomics and Ekuanitshit First Nations is just the start of the process, and the special urchin feed has now been approved for import and use.
400 members of the Ekuanitshit First Nation live on the island and Takeda believes that the project could offer them a lifeline. “If they succeed, it will give young people an economic base without move into the cities,” he says.
He now plans to test the feed and breeding technology in a pilot plant in Mingan in Quebec this year before heading to British Columbia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland next year, while he also has ambitions to grow the company in other countries, in response to growing demand for urchins.