Marine group partnering with Canadian scientists as part of $300k investment

OTAQ, the Lancaster-based marine technology group, has made a $300,000 equity investment in Blue Lion Labs, a Canadian data management and software company.

Blue Lion is developing solutions to multiple water-quality challenges, including real time monitoring of harmful organisms in water to deliver more sustainable food sources.

Following completion of the investment, OTAQ will hold approximately 10% of Blue Lion’s issued ordinary share capital.

In addition, the companies have signed cooperation and licensing agreements which will ultimately allow OTAQ to incorporate Blue Lion’s specialty in artificial intelligence technology to analyse plankton monitoring data at fish farms.

Importantly, this will build on, and accelerate, the development of the company’s own plankton/algae bloom early detection system, with a view to achieving commercialisation within the next 18 months.

As part of the agreement, OTAQ’s chief executive, Phil Newby, will take a seat on the board of Blue Lion and will help to support its growth.

It is estimated that the global aquaculture industry suffers $3.4bn in damage and losses annually due to harmful organisms.

The collaboration is focused on addressing this in the company’s target markets by creating a solution that will combine OTAQ’s hardware expertise and Blue Lion’s software expertise to identify harmful levels of phytoplankton by providing real time information to finfish farmers to allow them to improve welfare and reduce losses.

Blue Lion was established in 2018 by Dr Jason Deglint and Dr Katie Thomas, two PhD alumni from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, with expertise in machine learning and AI, and aquatic biology, respectively.

It already has the support of incubator and mentorship programmes including Hatch, the Ocean Startup Challenge and NEXT Canada.

OTAQ remains focused on creating a portfolio of products to improve management, efficiency and output as it builds on established relationships within the global aquaculture sector.

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.”

Dr. Jason Deglint said: “The team at Blue Lion Labs is very excited to partner with OTAQ. This Investment and collaboration helps 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.”