Startups compete for Canadian Thrive challenge

Seafood traceability software takes top spot

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A seafood traceability company took top spot in a recent challenge organized by Thrive, a Silicon Valley agricultural technology investor.

Nine Canadian agriculture and food startups competed as finalists, with British Columbia seafood traceability company ThisFish taking the top spot.

Why it matters: As the agriculture and food sectors shift towards digitization and precision tools, increasing investment is being directed at made-in-Canada solutions.

In the final live pitch, ThisFish chief executive officer and co-founder Eric Enno Tamm, described his startup as one focused on digitizing an otherwise “archaic” global seafood information system.

With data siloed and an innumerable number of paper records, Tamm said the opportunity for problems in the fishing industry — from illegal fishing and dubious sustainability claims to processing inefficiencies — are not being addressed. His company has developed and started commercializing a full-spectrum digital tracking tool, called Tally.

The Pixaberry unit ready to work in a strawberry field. photo: Neupeak Robotics

Tally allows processors to digitize all information from the floor in real time, said Tamm. It can also automate workflows with electronic scales, barcode printers, scanners and other hardware. Operators can simultaneously monitor live dashboards and quickly run customized reports, as well as integrate data from and to accounting and other software.

Another aspect of the winning startup is a focus on artificial intelligence, specifically using it to analyze and predict fish yields, a task Tamm said is difficult for processors.

Other winners

Two other awards were also provided.

Natasha Dhayagude of Chinova Bioworks, a company making a mushroom-based additive to increase the shelf-life of foods, was given the Female Founder Award.

AgVisor Pro, a company developing a global digital adviser network, received the People’s Choice Award. AgVisor Pro allows farmers to ask questions and be connected quickly to an expert to answer a question.

The winner receives the Thrive Canada Challenge Award and advances to the finals of the Global Thrive Accelerator Program with an opportunity to be selected for the Thrive VII Cohort in California.

Other finalists included:

  • Healthy Cow — supporting dairy cattle microbiomes with probiotics before and after calving.
  • Impactful Health R&D — extending seafood shelf life through compostable packaging.
  • Index Biosystems — applying unique yeast strains for food traceability.
  • Lucent BioSciences — developing a non-soluble, organic-based fertilizer alternative.
  • Neupeak Robotics — reducing labour needs at fruit harvest with swarm style autonomous robots.
  • SoilOptix — mapping soil fertility via gamma ray spectrometry.
  • Vertité — Indoor, urban hydroponic fruit production.

Farm Credit Canada was the founding funder for the Canadian competition.

The event is part of Thrive’s global initiative, which, according to the investor, aims to enable changes in Canada’s food value chain, as highlighted in the United Nation’s sustainable development goals. The challenge identified, promoted and invested in innovative early-stage Canadian startups geared toward creating alternative paths for a more efficient and sustainable food system.

Other competitions are taking place in regions around the globe, the next one encompassing all of Africa.

About the author

Contributor

Matt McIntosh

Matt is a freelance writer based between Essex County and Chatham-Kent. He is interested in all things scientific, as well as rock n' roll, hunting and history. He also works with his parents on their sixth-generation family farm.

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