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A Healthy Future for Aquafarming

MARINE TECH: Aquasend Taking Part in Blue Accelerator Program

North County-headquartered Aquasend – maker of a water quality monitoring system that helps aquafarmers across the United States care for and manage their production – has been selected to be a part of a worldwide blue accelerator program that is working toward a climate-smart, sustainable and just seafood transition.

Aquasend and its personnel will be participating in the HATCH Blue Accelerator 6.0 program, an international masterclass held over 14 weeks and designed to scale sustainable solutions in the blue economy for U.S.-based companies.

HATCH’s vision is to achieve the least-possible footprint of farmed and alternative seafood for the benefit of the oceans, terrestrial ecosystems and future generations, to include aquafarming — the cultivation of aquatic organisms involving freshwater, brackish water and saltwater populations under controlled or semi-natural conditions.

Kristin Elliott
Founder and CEO
Aquasend

Aquasend was conceptualized in 2017 by founder and CEO Kristin Elliott, as a way for aquafarms to manage production more efficiently and affordably through innovative technology integrating water sensors, and 24/7 real-time monitors and alerts. The company is an offshoot of Vista-based Precision Measurement Engineering, which for more than 40 years has been designing freshwater and oceanographic research devices that help solve myriad water measurement challenges.

Aquasend makes equipment accompanied by a cloud-based SaaS system that helps aquafarmers measure dissolved oxygen levels, keeps track of temperature, checks levels of ammonia, pH and nitrates, and more. It is keeping fish healthy and has increased production at sites around the country – from catfish farms in Mississippi and shrimp farms in Alabama to tilapia farms in Hawaii, baramundi farms in Arizona and trout farms in Northern California.

The company’s equipment and software are in aquafarms in Mexico and Italy, with plans to expand into Australia before the end of the year.

PME generates about $3 million in revenues annually, with Aquasend’s revenues in 2022 at about $50,000. Elliott said that this year Aquasend is anticipating closer to $150,000 in revenues.

‘Synergistic Goal’

Elliott is the daughter of Dr. Michael Head and Sandy Head, the husband-and-wife team who founded PME in 1982 as Dr. Head was working toward his Ph.D. at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The micro-scale sensor he developed allowed researchers to track very small fluctuations of temperature and conductivity in water samples.

Aquasend and PME both provide instruments and software that accurately and reliably measure, collect and analyze water properties for both fresh and saltwater research.

Elliott, now president of PME as well as Aquasend, said the HATCH program will give Aquasend a better understanding of the international needs of aquafarmers and how to best collaborate to define innovative technologies.

“Our synergistic goal of providing this industry with real-time water quality monitoring devices and forecasted data analysis is aligned to propel value to our customers and beyond,” Elliott said.

Participants receive initial investment with the potential for follow-on investment from HATCH Blue, which invested $300,000 as a pre-seed investment for PME and Aquasend.

The HATCH accelerator cohort of company founders will experience 12 farm and site visits across the globe to connect with world-leading experts and industry investors, farmers and talent. Stops include Norway, Hawaii, Vietnam and Singapore.

Beacon in Hawaii

Aquasend’s newest product, the Aquasend Beacon, provides aquaculture farmers with tools and continuous reporting in order to instantly manage dissolved oxygen and temperature levels.

Ronald Weidenbach
Co-owner
Hawaii Fish Company, Inc., Oahu

Ronald Weidenbach, co-owner of Hawaii Fish Company, Inc., on the North Shore of Oahu, has installed two Beacons on his tilapia farm, located in a 100-foot pond that used to be a former rock quarry that was flooded.

Weidenbach said the Beacons keep the company informed via text message and through an online portal of the state of the pond’s water quality by measuring temperature and dissolved oxygen.

“The Beacon assists our farm in knowing when to engage in emergency aeration if DO levels drop below a certain threshold,” he said. “In Hawaii, the energy costs are so high and it is very costly to run aeration. Aquasend Beacons remove the guess work while saving our farm costly energy dollars that we can use elsewhere.”

Elliott said she created Aquasend to offer immediate points of value with longer-term value for companies seeking better health and sustainability of their water, and those living in it.

She said her lifelong interest in innovation and technology keeps her pressing on with future plans for more that her company can be part of.

“There’s innovation on the data side and we’re starting to see that with AI,” Elliott said. “And once we start to obtain larger data set, we can provide trend analysis. We can even potentially look at, for example, how are the tilapia farms in Ecuador compared to the tilapia farms in the U.S.? How can we potentially improve the sustainability of farming in general just from data and looking at weather trends? Drought or climate or even disease impacts on different regions… There’s this whole data analysis which I’m super excited about.”

Aquasend (a brand of of Precision Measurement Engineering, Inc.)

FOUNDED: 2017 (PME founded 1982)
FOUNDER AND CEO: Kristin Elliott
HEADQUARTERS: Vista
BUSINESS: Water monitoring technologies and SaaS
REVENUE: $150,000 estimated for 2023 (PME: $3 million)
EMPLOYEES: 4 (PME: 15)
WEBSITE: aquasend.com
CONTACT: info@aquasend.com or 760-727-0300
SOCIAL IMPACT: Elliott donates equipment to University of Hawaii-Maui oceanographers to understand impact of fires on watersheds in the coastal region
NOTABLE: Elliott said she has future plans for Aquasend to eventually equip and provide crossover value to other industries to solve water-related concerns.

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