Niri founder hooks up with minicomputer entrepreneur to set up multimillion feed-producing indoor salmon farm

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“I am prepared for the aquaculture industry to say that this will not work because nobody has done this before. But that’s not right. My partner Arve Gravdal has produced adult salmon in Scotland. I have seen it myself.”

Terje Mikalsen (78), a multimillionaire entrepreneur and investor is joining forces with Niri founder, Arve Gravdal, for a new land-based salmom farming site. Together they have hired Fearnley Securities to help look for EUR 4.1 million investment funding for the project.

4.1 million investment
New shareholders will receive about one third of the shares in the new company EFC Scotland, and the rest will be owned by Mikalsen and Gravdal as reported in Dagens Næringsliv.

EFC has recently taken over a small farm in Campbeltown, Scotland, and plans to build a land based facility on Lista, south Norway. This is also where Mikalsen is from.

Plants must produce their own feed
According to Mikalsen, the new land-based fish farm will capture carbon dioxide produced by salmon, and will use it to produce bacteria converted into proteins. He says that this will cover about half of the fish’s protein needs.

“This has not been done before with CO2 from farmed fish. The process will create high-grade clean feed and reduce the use of imported soybean meal. We will integrate farming with an electrolysis plant where water is cleaved to oxygen and hydrogen. Large amounts of oxygen are required for the fish, and the rest of the oxygen together with the hydrogen and the captured CO2 must be used to make protein via bacteria. This is known technology. The electrolysis also emits large amounts of heat that can be used to dry the protein, and regulate the temperature in the farming tanks,” said Mikalsen.

Arve Gravdal, at Niri’s plant in Machrihanish, Scotland.

Nobody has done this before
Pressed if he is sure that this method will work, Mikalsen answered:

“I am prepared for the aquaculture industry to say that this will not work because nobody has done this before. But that’s not right. My partner Arve Gravdal has produced adult fish in Scotland. I have seen it myself,” said Mikalsen.

Arne Gravdal, leads the RAS technology provider Niri, which, under its subsidary, Niri Scotland, established a pilot plant to create 40,000 tonnes of salmon in 2015. The site at the Machrihanish Airbase near Campbelltown in Scotland, was at its time, the world’s largest tank for salmon production. However in In February 2018, the company’s shareholders decided to offer the facility for sale.

In September, Niri reported a loss of EUR 2.6 million since it started in 2006. In 2017 the company lost EUR 473 thousand.

Most adventurous adventure
Mikalsen is behind Norsk Data, a Norwegian minicomputer manufacturer, and pharmaceutical company, Hafslund Nycomed, but has no background in farming.

“I tend to mess up with things I basically do not deal with. It is probably the most adventurous adventure I have been on, but I really believe in this. Because we are talking about revamping land-based farming” he said to the newspaper, adding that they have already established a collaboration with the major retailers, Marks and Spencer, among others.