OTAQ plankton alert system on market ‘within 18 months’
UK-based marine technology company OTAQ is hoping to speed up the development of a plankton/algal bloom early warning system for fish farmers after spending $300,000 on a 10% stake in Blue Lion Labs Ltd, a Canadian data management and software company developing solutions to water quality challenges.
The companies have also signed cooperation and licensing agreements which will ultimately allow OTAQ to incorporate Blue Lion’s specialty in artificial intelligence technology (“AI”) to analyse plankton monitoring data at fish farms.
This will build on and accelerate the development of OTAQ’s own plankton/algae bloom early detection system, with a view to achieving commercialisation within the next 18 months, OTAQ said in a press release.
The collaboration is focused on creating a solution that will combine OTAQ’s hardware expertise and Blue Lion’s software expertise. OTAQ, which has branches in Aberdeen, Lancaster, Ulverston and in Puerto Montt, Chile is best known in aquaculture for its Seal Fence acoustic deterrent device (ADD) used to prevent seals and sea lions predating on farmed fish.
OTAQ chief executive Phil Newby said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with Blue Lion. They have an established AI platform and deep experience of its application in this important area that further enhances our ability to deliver a rounded product ahead of schedule.
“They are a dynamic team, and we very much look forward to working together on innovative projects which will add vital new management tools for our clients to improve the welfare and productivity of their stock.”
Blue Lion was established in 2018 by Jason Deglint and Katie Thomas, two PhD alumni from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, with expertise in machine learning and AI, and aquatic biology, respectively. Blue Lion already has the support of incubator and mentorship programmes including Hatch, the Ocean Startup Challenge and NEXT Canada.
Deglint, the company’s chief executive, said: “The team at Blue Lion Labs is very excited to partner with OTAQ. This investment and collaboration help us in executing on our mission to develop innovative solutions to global water-quality issues. Combining our AI technology with OTAQ’s hardware platform and distribution infrastructure will provide both companies with an accelerated path to market.”