Aqua Pharma buys 50% stake in ultrasound delousing company Pulcea

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Deals brings tech closer to market.

In a press release, Scotland-based Pulcea, a company developing sound energy technology to improve the efficiency of existing sea lice treatments, writes that it has joined forces with aquaculture pharmaceutical company Aqua Pharma.

Under the “six-figure deal”, Aqua Pharma have bought a 50% stake in Pulcea, with the remaining 50% jointly owned by Pulcea managing director Ian Armstrong and technical director Ian Jamieson.

Pulcea, based at the Stirling University Innovation Park and the Roslin Innovation Centre near Edinburgh, explained its approach to the EUR 549 million issue of sea lice.

“Current treatment methods include bathing the salmon in hydrogen peroxide, which breaks down into water and oxygen after treatment. Using acoustic power in conjunction with hydrogen peroxide during treatment causes the oxygen bubbles that attach to the sea lice from the breakdown of the hydrogen peroxide to oscillate, causing more damage to the lice whilst being less stressful for the fish”.

PHOTO: Pulcea

The company wrote that the benefits of ultrasound, when used in conjunction with hydrogen peroxide, were discovered in 2016 during the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre’s Rapid Response project studying ultrasound at the University of Stirling’s Marine Environmental Research Laboratory at Machrihanish. Pulcea’s challenge was to discover how to scale the Consortium’s invention to commercial scale.

The project has also funded by Innovate UK and SAIC.

Pulcea managing director Ian Armstrong said: “The Pulcea team welcomes the investment of Aqua Pharma to develop our technology during these challenging times when ongoing innovation is so important to the international salmon farming community.

“Sea lice can be a challenge when growing salmon and many different treatment methods are currently in use or under evaluation. A system such as ours, which combines efficiency with a focus on the wellbeing of the fish and the environment, will be a vital addition to the armoury of treatments and enhance the sustainability of the industry. Our target markets include those early spring treatments undertaken prior to the wild salmon smolt migration, along with the intensive Autumn season.

“Traditionally, the Norwegian industry are great implementers of good ideas, and this investment from Aqua Pharma will take our sea-lice technology from the current testing phase through to widespread commercialisation as rapidly as Covid-19 restrictions permit,” he added.

Aqua Pharma CEO Elvin Bugge said the company’s “gentle treatments” was worth the investment: “For Aqua Pharma this investment into Pulcea fits perfectly within our mission to contribute to responsible, sustainable, aquaculture by innovating and developing effective, minimum impact and gentle treatments for the fish under our customers’ care and we are very excited to be involved in bringing it to the market.”