April 10th, 2019 by Aqua Nor
The Innovation Award: They won last time – this year they’ll be back
After winning the Innovation Award at AquaNor 2017, Scottish Ace Aquatec has experienced several major and positive ripple effects.
“The biggest effect for us has been increased sales. We’ve got our technology into factories and land-based fish farms all around the world, and we now have new customers in countries like Denmark and New Zealand,” says Managing Director of Ace Aquatec, Nathan Pyne-Carter.
Kick-start for growth
They won the Innovation Award for the development of “The Humane Stunner Universal”, an electric fish stunner that renders the fish unconscious in the transport tube before bringing them onto the bleeding table where they are killed. This method meets the EU’s requirement for humane slaughter ensuring the fish are unconscious prior to death within one second.
“We got a kick-start after AquaNor 2017. For us, publicity in the wake of the Innovation Award has been important for expansion into new markets such as Chile and America. Today we have customers in Germany at Fresh Corp, who use the electric stunning machine on high-end products such as yellowfin tuna.”
In Alaska, the electric stunner is by fish farmers to stun wild salmon so that the roe can be extracted. Pyne-Carter says that the survival rate of the roe is 95% after which they are grown and released back into the sea.
“Both the exhibition participation and the Innovation Award increased our contact with the market and made it easier for us to identify growth opportunities, become better acquainted with the customer’s needs and establish closer contact with producers and breeders, who may not know us and the opportunities that exist in our technology.”
Because the electric fish stunner can be used on all types of fish species, there is currently a wide range of companies looking to use the system for species such as cod, saithe, haddock and salmon in wild and farmed sectors.
“Our turnover has doubled every year. Our system is now commercially available in industrial sizes up to 300 tonnes of fish per hour. We have also developed the product to fit on fishing vessels and wellboats,” he elaborates.
Pyne-Carter says that increased attention in the industry has meant that, what they consider a more humane slaughter method, has gained greater recognition across the industry. For Ace Aquatec’s part, this has meant increased demand for the fish stunner itself, but also for other products the company has in its portfolio.
“For us, increased demand led to a greater focus on technology development. We’ve also experienced greater demand for other products such as electric deterrents and acoustic devices that keep predators away from the fish in the net pens,” Pyne-Carter explains.
Acoustic or electric field pulses are a humane and effective way to scare off the predators, and so, for example, culling the seals can be avoided. He says that in Scotland there is a lot of attention on this, and that the general public want the number of culled seals to go down.
“We know that the EU is working on a directive for more humane slaughter of fish and our products help to minimize the impact on local marine life.”
“I have to say that meeting the royal family was extra memorable. We participated with our distributor Sterner and there was an overwhelming number of people visiting our booth. We received a lot of publicity and attention,” says Ace Aquatec’s managing director.
He tells of some hectic days at the exhibition that have provided both positive experiences and ripple effects for the company.
“For us it was great to be one of the finalists. The fact that we also won was absolutely fantastic. For us, it was fantastic to be able to showcase the results of years of effort and investment at a trade show where all the latest technology in the industry is presented. There were some wonderful days!”
The prize money of NOK 100,000 was used to transport a demonstrator stunner that Ace Aquatec uses to other international trade fairs they are attending.
“It is better to bring something physical than just pictures of the product. The award has also given us more opportunities to demonstrate electrical stunning for a wider audience. We have just been to the fair in Boston and are going to the one in Brussels,” says Pyne-Carter.
When they applied for the award in 2017, after the start-up in 2007, the company had been through a long R&D phase and received some support from Innovate UK and the Scottish government.
“In Scotland we do not have as much resources on the innovation side as in Norway, so being on the same platform as the big Norwegian companies and showing off Scottish technology was a great opportunity for us.”
“If you are a company in the innovation phase, I would recommend you sign up. Both if you have new technology to present and to discover new markets and opportunities.”
Following the success of the last trade show, Pyne-Carter and his team are now planning to return to Trondheim and this year’s Aqua Nor. Maybe they will also apply for the Innovation Prize again.
“Currently we are working on a new lice removal machine and several new systems that we are looking forward to present to Norway. We may be applying this year, too, but I won’t reveal too much right now,” he concludes.
We are now accepting applications for the 2019 Innovation Award! Application deadline 1 May. Here you will find information about who can apply for the Award and requirements for the application.