Startups sought for aquaculture accelerator program at NELHA

  • HATCH, an investment firm that touts itself as the world’s first accelerator for aquaculture, is seeking applicant startups from Hawaii and around the globe to take part in its 2019 cohort that gets underway this summer at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority in Kailua-Kona. (Jeff Milisen via Kampachi Farms LLC/NELHA/Special to West Hawaii Today)
  • HATCH, an investment firm that touts itself as the world’s first accelerator for aquaculture, is seeking applicant startups from Hawaii and around the globe to take part in its 2019 cohort that gets underway this summer at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority in Kailua-Kona. (Jeff Milisen via Kampachi Farms LLC/NELHA/Special to West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — Got an aquaculture technology business and want to take it to the next level faster?

HATCH, an investment firm that touts itself as the world’s first accelerator for aquaculture, is seeking applicant startups from Hawaii and around the globe to take part in its 2019 cohort that gets underway this summer at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority in Kailua-Kona.

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NELHA will hold an open house and HATCH Aquaculture Accelerator kickoff event for anyone interested from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Hale Iako on Makako Bay Drive.

The cohort offers successful applicants €100,000 (nearly $113,000) per team, half of which is cash and half of which is in-kind service. When the program begins Aug. 26, 10 to 14 teams will hunker down for an intensive 15-week program that’s designed to accelerate the companies to the global aquaculture market.

The selected companies’ teams will meet and engage with world industry leaders and mentors who will challenge them, their technologies, their business plans, their strategies and their product markets all while providing a global sense of what is going on in the world of aquaculture, said Wayne Murphy, chief operating officer and co-founder of HATCH.

“The best way to describe an accelerator program is it’s like an MBA for startups,” he said.

Companies completing the nearly four-month accelerator program typically develop by 12 to 18 months “in terms of how they talk, how they walk, how they talk about their business, and how they engage with investors,” Murphy said.

“In a way, it doesn’t really matter how exciting your technology is or how amazing your technology is or how inviting it is. If you can’t sell it and make a business out of it and find customers, you really have nothing,” Murphy said. “We do a lot around making these companies understand how to share their views and share their stories and get people excited about them, so that they can raise money, they can attract customers and they can give their business the best possible chance for success.”

In applicants for the accelerator program, HATCH is looking for startups that have reference customers and are earning revenue. Interested startups are encouraged to apply online at www.hatch.blue/apply.

“HATCH’s real sweet spot is commercializing this technology. Introducing you to the right people anywhere in the world that would be interested in what you’re trying to develop — be it feed ingredients or vaccines or AIs or data analytics,” Murphy said. “From our perspective, you’ve got some sense of maybe an element market fit, you know where you’re going, and HATCH is the conduit to make you go faster.”

While it is open to startups everywhere, HATCH is pushing local companies to apply to be part of the cohort that will take the teams beyond Hawaii to aquaculture hubs in Norway and Singapore.

“They’re going to get a global perspective on aquaculture and I’m really excited. We really need to find some local talent to join us on that journey,” he said. “We need everybody who is involved in aquaculture in Hawaii to please reach out to us — we’re looking for people to bring something to the table.”

The cohort, opening Aug. 26, is part of a three-year aquaculture accelerator pilot program the state hopes will make Hawaii a bigger player in the global aquaculture industry. HATCH, which has bases in Norway and Singapore, and now Hawaii, was selected to run the program and an associated investment fund.

The fund was organized by a partnership between NELHA, the Hawaii Strategic Development Corporation and University of Hawaii’s UH Ventures. HATCH will run the accelerator program while working with the partners to raise capital from private investors.

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The program’s goal is to raise Hawaii’s global visibility in marine aquaculture and to capitalize on the commercial opportunities available globally. It’ll do that by attracting investor capital and a follow-on fund for aquaculture in Hawaii to develop technical and intellectual property that can benefit a global industry.

The kickoff event Tuesday at NELHA is free and open to anyone with an interest in the project. Those attending are asked to register at the HATCH Kickoff Eventbrite page at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hatch-kickoff-event-nelha-tickets-60564993526.

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