Aquaculture tech start-up Umitron snags US$2m funding for Peru project

SINGAPORE - Aquaculture tech start-up Umitron, together with its Peru partner Abaco and its subsidiary Piscis, has been approved for a US$2 million (S$2.74 million) project funding to improve aquaculture productivity in Lake Titicaca, Peru.

IDB Lab, the Inter-American Development Bank Group's (IDB) innovation laboratory, is financing the project with hopes of improving the local trout farming industry's economic and environmental sustainability.

Umitron, which was founded in 2016 in Singapore and Japan, builds aquaculture data platforms that leverage the use of Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and satellite remote sensing.

Its partner Piscis is one of the largest trout farmers in Peru, and Umitron's AI feeding technology has the potential to increase their worker safety, while also reducing overfeeding and the threat of harmful algae blooms.

Lake Titicaca farmers raise rainbow trout, a species of salmonid, which are a valuable aquaculture sector with worldwide production increasing ten-fold over the past thirty years. The local Peruvian industry is expected to grow from 100,000 tons in 2016 to 221,000 tons of production by 2030.

IDB Lab's grant resources will be used by Umitron and Piscis to test and calibrate Umitron's AI feeding technology. Additionally, funds will be used to both train local producers and scale up Umitron's solution in the Lake Titicaca region, with the end goal to implement data-driven aquaculture feeding technology for farmers in Peru and eventually all of Latin America.

This project is the first step in Umitron's long term plans to develop technology for Latin American aquaculture producers. It is currently looking for similar public-private partnerships to assist aquaculture producers in increasing their environmental sustainability through impact investment.

Masahiko Yamada, managing director of Umitron, said: "Through our daily operation, we see many challenges facing the aquaculture industry such as economic and environmental sustainability. Finding solutions requires borderless collaboration between the public and private sector."

He added that he hopes that the project would create a "successful model for future growth" and that the technology-driven collaboration would encourage both sustainable aquaculture and economic expansion.