Nutreco announces today that it has invested in Israeli startup ViAqua as part of its focus on combatting disease in the aquaculture industry. ViAqua is developing the first orally-administered treatment for shrimp that improves resistance to viral diseases, including White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV), and prevents viral epidemics. Nutreco has taken a meaningful minority share that will conditionally grow over time.
The solution offered by ViAqua, which was founded in 2014, uses a proprietary particle to disable viral infections. In the future, ViAqua intends to expand to include more species, like other shellfish such as lobster and crab, and small fish.
Other shareholders in the company include The Trendlines and the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, both based in Israel.
Aquaculture’s biggest challenge
The investment is in line with Nutreco’s mission of ‘Feeding the Future’; the company’s ambition to contribute to producing enough nutritious and high-quality food for a growing population in a sustainable way.
Nutreco CEO Knut Nesse says, “Preventing and treating disease, particularly viral infections, is one of the biggest challenges facing the aquaculture industry today. In shrimp farming alone, diseases cause 10-20% losses. Working together with Viaqua, we will be able to offer targeted solutions to reduce and prevent disease.”
Viggo Halseth, Nutreco’s Chief Innovation Officer and head of Nutreco NuFrontiers – the company’s startup investment arm – adds, “The solution that ViAqua has developed is a unique and highly innovative way of combatting disease in shrimp. This is a very relevant technology to handle a significant health challenge and has convincing proof-of-concept. ViAqua is exactly the kind of innovative and technological partner we want to be working with in future.”
Delivery to market
Nutreco’s aquaculture division Skretting will work directly with ViAqua to effectively deliver the solution to the market.
CEO of Skretting Therese Log Bergjord says, “This investment fits well with our strategy to strengthen our activities in providing health solutions to farmers. ViAqua’s knowledge of how to combat health challenges in shrimp coupled with our expertise on application through feed and our reach in shrimp markets around the world mean that together we can really begin to have an impact on aquaculture health.”
CEO and Co-Founder of ViAqua Shai Ufaz comments, “We are excited to have strategic investors of the caliber of Nutreco aboard and the strength of the joint agreement with Skretting. Nutreco and Skretting’s combined resources and rich knowledge of the aquafeed industry will provide ViAqua with an outstanding opportunity to develop technologies with the right fit for the market. We look forward to collaborating, learning, and contributing our knowledge and expertise, to the common benefit of ViAqua, Nutreco and Skretting.”
About ViAqua Therapeutics
ViAqua Therapeutics addresses the growing need for effective, affordable treatments to combat diseases in aquaculture. ViAqua has developed an orally administered particle-based platform to improve resistance against viral diseases that attack shrimp and other aquaculture species.