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Bryton Shang (pictured) and his team are developing software that can count the sea lice on farmed salmon, as well as measuring biomass and fish appetite.
Bryton Shang, a start-up founder from Silicon Valley, is on a mission to make Norway’s fish farms work better.
“We’re seeing a growing demand for Norwegian seafood, but very limited supply. Unless we can become more efficient, we’re going to have a big problem,” says the entrepreneur.
The start-up founder, who was recently named in the Forbes “30 under 30” list, makes regular trips between the Bay Area and the coast of western Norway.
His company, Aquabyte, is developing software that can count the sea lice on farmed salmon, as well as measuring biomass and fish appetite.
This data can help farmers to improve fish welfare, as well as offering lower costs and greater sustainability.
Eventually, Aquabyte’s machine learning software could allow companies to make ever‑more accurate predictions, paving the way for advanced fish farms that effectively run themselves.
Recreating the fjords
According to Shang, technology is becoming ever more vital as the salmon‑farming industry is being squeezed by a number of factors.
“Norway is running out of space in the fjords, which means that we need to make our aqua farms more efficient,” he explains.
He believes that in future, a greater share of seafood production will take place either in land‑based fish farms or in large offshore constructions.
These facilities will need to use high‑tech equipment and machine learning to replicate the perfect conditions of the Norwegian fjords.
Shang’s company, Aquabyte, can help fish farmers to improve fish welfare and cut costs.
Seeking rapid growth
From its base in Silicon Valley, Aquabyte has recently expanded into the Bergen region, taking on new offices in the Marineholmen research park.
The firm has since been growing rapidly, helped by venture capital from both the USA and Norway.
Shang’s team now includes 20 employees, spread evenly between the Bay Area and the company’s offices in Bergen.
“A lot of companies are working on incremental improvements, such as better access to data for the fish farming industry,” explains Shang. “But we also need to be making deep bets on technologies that will fundamentally change how fish-farming is done.”
The entrepreneur is also eyeing further expansion, first to Scotland and then eventually to other aqua farming nations such as Canada and Chile.
Bergen’s unique strengths
Yet according to Shang, Bergen will always be the aquaculture company’s “centre of excellence”.
“Bergen is at the centre of the aquaculture world, and it’s the place to be if you’re starting an aquaculture company.”
He points to organizations such as the NCE Seafood Innovation Cluster, which are always willing to help new seafood start-ups to get ahead.
The aqua farming community in western Norway boasts other strengths, too. “There’s a lot of trust here. Fish farms have opened up and let us test out new technology, which has really helped us.”
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