Aqua Robotics founder eyes “a generation of growth”

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Aqua Robotics founder, Knut Molaug, says he believes in global growth for aquaculture

The aquaculture industry has just been through a period of fairytale growth. According to the latest numbers from Norwegian research community, SINTEF, the supply chain in Norway alone has doubled since 1994.

Although the growth has largely slowed due to biological challenges the industry faces, the Aqua Robotics founder is optimistic. “Globally, I’m sure the aquaculture industry will continue to grow for another generation,” Molaug said.

Growth prospect: a rail-mounted Halo maintenance robot

An Akva Group exec for 22 years, he was one a guest on Sysla Live during the Ocean 2017 Conference earlier this autumn. The 57-year-old with a cybernetics background has been in the aquaculture business since the 1980’s, and he shared some of his thoughts about the industry’s future with the audience.

“The big difference is that companies now are larger and more professional. That means suppliers must have a completely different structure than before. Demands from clients, regulators and others also means expectations are different now,”

Norway, then world
The industry’s overarching challenges with sea lice has all but stopped growth for most companies, and only spectacular growth in prices is helping keep them profitable. Before more growth can happen, Molaug says the lice problems has to be brought under control.

“In Norway, we’re totally dependent on gaining control of the fish health challenge. When that happens, I’m convinced that we’ll see more growth, here (in Norway), too,” Molaug said.

His growth in global growth is part of the reason Molaug has reached out beyond Norway with Aqua Robotics’ new cleaning robot, the Halo, launched in 2017 at Aqua Nor. The robot is based on the idea that brushing can replace today’s net-rinsing.

“We know that marine growth, which the robot can help combat, is a far bigger problem in warmer conditions of more daylight. We’ll concentrate first on the Norwegian market, but looking ahead we believe our product can contribute to the global market,” Molaug said.