What are investors looking for in salmon farming start ups?

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“Can we be a missing piece to that puzzle?”

At the Aquaculture Innovation conference at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel, London, Nutreco NuFrontiers’ Investment Director Joost Matthijssen, X2 Labs founder Christian Rangen and CAH Capital founding partner Matthias Hofer discussed how startups can grab their attention.

The experts in corporate venturing, venture capital and mid-stage funding said that there were opportunities in health, nutrition and tech but that the challenge in the established salmon industry would be how to how to generate meaningful returns.

Matthias Hofer from the animal health venture capital investor CAH said that people were key; “The most obvious but it’s the people, we look very strongly at that aspect – and the enthusiasm and experience of the team. What interests us more specifically, IP (intellectual property) – even in nutritional health – but also how quickly and how certain it is, as well as if the tech that’s already been proven in target species”.

Cristian Rangen, who runs the “Startup Factory” X2, used the movie “Cool Runnings” to illustrate how enthusiasm isn’t enough to be successful; “A lot of the start-ups that I meet are a bit like the Jamaicans in ski championships. They have a lot of energy and enthusiasm, but they never have seen snow and when they get in real-world they haven’t prepared for this. We teach or develop skills of how to successfully build a long term value realisation strategy to build value long terms. You will be able to build a company more than technology and that’s going to be a much more attractive space. It’s about building capabilities around all sides of the table.”

Joost Matthijssen said that but all of the above applied to Nutreco NuFrontiers and but he also said learning went both ways; “It’s about people – a strong team and a clear vision. We prioritise technology, that’s something we dive deep on and also invest in learning. We also ask what has this team developed that we could never do in the house – what can we learn from them – is it effective, could it scale? Can we play a role in developing this further? Would this tech and proposition fit with our future in some shape or form – and can we be a partner to this startup – can it get best from us or from someone like us? Can we be a missing piece to that puzzle?”