Biotechnological “startup” companies at the National Center for Mariculture
Based on R&D carried out at NCM, several biotechnological applications have been developed which are in different stages of patent registration to protect this intellectual property. Some of these applications were passed on to entrepreneurs within the framework of “startup” companies or other organizations to develop products for the mariculture market. For example, “Feedpro Ltd” was established to develop a novel product for fish and shrimp larvae, based on results of multi-disciplinary research carried out at NCM during the last eight years.
The larval feed (“Microdiet”) developed by Feedpro will be used as a partial replacement for the live food used today for fish larvae around the world. This new product can also be used as a feed additive for adult fish or as a means of applying drugs or vaccines to the fish. Production cost of this product is low and the developed technology allows optimal control of its nutritional and physical characteristics making for a wide range of applications.
The targeted users of the Feedpro “microdiet” in the first stage, will be the fish and shrimphatcheries that presently use small shrimp called Artemia as live food Artemia hatch from resting eggs collected in saline lakes. The size of the world Artemia market today is about $150-200 million /year r (2500-3000 tons of eggs at $50-75/kg). The present growth rate of mariculture is10% a year and a similar growth in the demand for Artemia or its substitute is expected. The expectation is that within a few years it will be possible to replace at least 25% of the Artemia market with this novel microdiet. Subsequently it will be possible to enlarge the number of target users to include all fish and shrimp growers, a much larger market. In the future, new products to be delivered by this microdiet such as food additives, drugs and vaccines, will be offered to the growers. Feedpro microdiet is scheduled to begin commercial testing .in the near future.
New projects being developed at NCM deal with additional feed replacements for young fish such as small worms (nematodes) that can be stored dry after enrichment with essential nutrients. Another startup products project based on NCM research focuses on the development of products to enhance fish reproduction..