S2G Ventures Oceans and Seafood Fund is excited to announce our recent investment in ReelData, a data-driven computer vision and artificial intelligence platform bringing precision farming to land-based aquaculture.
ReelData is leveraging cutting edge machine learning technology to optimize feeding systems and provide predictive analytics around biomass and fish health, giving producers new insights to optimize their businesses that were previously not possible. As ReelData works with land-based aquaculture fisheries to scale their businesses, their technology can help relieve pressure on wild fish stocks, improve animal welfare and reduce the overall carbon footprint of seafood products. We believe ReelData can play a critical role shifting land-based aquaculture from a borderline viable business to becoming the most profitable, consistent, and sustainable way to produce the world’s seafood.
Computer Science Meets Fish Farming
The inspiration for ReelData was born from two founders who shared a passion for developing solution-based, sustainable technology that could improve outcomes for our oceans, food, and climate. While finishing their graduate degrees in computer science, founders Matt Zimola and Hossein Salimian reached out to professionals in ocean-based industries to understand pain points that could be managed through technology. Through their conversations it became clear that they had an exciting opportunity to help fish farms maximize productivity and reduce waste while achieving their vision of building a company with sustainability at its core.
After learning more about the aquaculture industry and its challenges, the pair focused specifically on the land-based segment where they felt their expertise could be best applied. Land-based farms have the ability to grow fish in highly technical and optimized environments, where everything from light to oxygen saturation is closely monitored and controlled, making them the perfect use case to apply computer vision and artificial intelligence technologies to maximize growth and fish health.
“Aquaculture is already the most carbon-efficient source of animal protein. Creating sustainable technology that helps these farms scale will have a multiplication factor on food sustainability and that's a beautiful thing.”
- Matt Zimola, CEO and Co-Founder of ReelData
Matt and Hossein began developing their first product, a non-intrusive, underwater biomass camera system, via a partnership with Sustainable Blue, a local Nova Scotia land-based salmon farm. They participated in numerous local and international accelerator programs, winning upwards of CAD $600,000 in non-dilutive funding. Most notably, the two founders participated in the TechStars AI Montreal and MassChallenge where ReelData won the Gold Award. Since then, ReelData has gained industry recognition and won contracts with many of the world’s largest land-based producers.
Maximizing Aquaculture for Sustainable Growth
Land-based aquaculture is the fastest growing sector in the seafood industry; however, lack of precision farming technology significantly increases its operational cost, biological risk, and scalability. ReelData addresses the highest priority issues to these risks by using fused sensors, artificial intelligence, and friendly user interfaces to provide producers with predictive analytics, systems optimization, and automation solutions. Specifically, ReelData is providing solutions to address the following inefficiencies and risks persistent in operations:
Feeding Systems: Fish feed comprises up to 70% of a farm’s operational costs. Currently farmers manually determine how to feed their fish, resulting in over and underfeeding rates that have a material impact on their bottom line. ReelData’s AI solution cuts wasted feed by 3x. ReelData has created the world's first automated and optimized feeding system for land-based aquaculture that minimizes wasted feed while maximizing biomass.
Biomass Estimation: Unknown growth cycles and mortality rates force producers to establish sales contracts without knowing the quantity or quality of their inventory. This leads to unfulfilled contracts, discounted products and wasted excess supply. ReelData provides accurate, real-time biomass estimation and predictive growth rates that enables both fish growth and sales optimization without the need to manually weigh fish.
Health / Stress Analysis: Farms have little to no predictive indicators to identify stress levels in tanks. The current approach is to rely on post-mortem assessments of disease outbreak and mortality which leads to substantial inventory risk. ReelData offers a proactive solution. Their predictive health / stress analysis provides an early indication of population risks, keeping fish happier and healthier, and in turn reducing stress-related weight loss and mortality.
The Land-Based Opportunity
Over the course of the next ten years, S2G believes precision land-based aquaculture will de-risk the seafood supply chain and operate more profitably than ocean-based farming and wild capture fisheries. At the same time, wide-spread adoption of land-based aquaculture has the potential to revolutionize the world's food system by reducing its impact on the oceans and lowering the industry’s carbon footprint. ReelData will help accelerate that transformation by enabling farmers to move down the cost-curve rapidly and scale faster by achieving lower feed costs, optimizing biomass grow out cycles, and reducing mortality while improving quality.
“Aquaculture is undergoing a paradigm shift and we believe the future of aquatic farming will take place on land.”
- Matt Zimola, CEO and Co-Founder of ReelData
The land-based aquaculture industry is relatively nascent; however, the industry is at an inflection point in terms of technology, interest and capital and is poised for exponential growth. The land-based salmon market is set to produce 20,300 metric tonnes in 2021, in contrast to the 2.5 million metric tonnes of salmon farmed globally. These figures will look drastically different in ten years. According to ReelData’s estimates, there are currently 24 land-based salmon projects announced which are estimated to increase production by 70x by 2030, producing over 2 million metric tonnes and $20 billion of annual product value. With planned growth in seafood demand globally, ReelData is well positioned to capture a significant market opportunity.
We are thrilled to fund ReelData’s Series A and to partner with them as they accelerate product development and provide a critical tool to help scale land-based aquaculture for the benefit of our seafood supply chains and ocean ecosystems.