Boston-based InnovaSea Systems Inc. has raised $15 million to develop an all-in-one system for farming fish in the open ocean, an approach that the company and its partners say is vital to a sustainable future for the seafood industry.
InnovaSea was formed in 2015 from the merger of Maine's Ocean Farm Technologies Inc. and another company out of Seattle, Washington. Both companies made large underwater pens to contain fish while they grow big enough to harvest for food.
Since then, InnovaSea has been building out its Boston headquarters, which is focused on the research and development necessary to turn those underwater pens into a more complete solution for raising fish in the ocean, helping farmers feed, track and harvest their schools of fish.
The new funding comes from Cuna Del Mar, an investment firm focused on open-ocean aquaculture. Cuna Del Mar formed InnovaSea after buying a stake in each of its predecessor companies.
"The financing was part of a planned strategy to support the continued investment in making the farm platform," said David Kelly, the CEO and chief technology officer of InnovaSea.
Kelly declined to share more details about the financial aspects of InnovaSea's business plan, but said the company plans to focus more on bringing its product to market in 2018. Until then, the company will test its technology with two of Cuna Del Mar's other portfolio companies that operate fish farms in Panama and Mexico.
InnovaSea employs about 40 people, including 18 people in a Fort Point office that opened in August. Those employees are research-focused and have largely been hired since 2015, Kelly said.
"The reason to put it in Boston is there is a nexus of marine, ocean engineering expertise and technology in the area,” said Kelly, who was previously the CEO of the autonomous underwater vehicle company BlueFin Robotics, headquartered in Quincy. "When you start looking at... the combination of marine ocean experience with big data – in that sort of play Boston became the clear choice."
Kelly O'Brien covers startups, venture capital and tech in Greater Boston.