Marine technology group OTAQ has taken a 10% stake in Blue Lion Labs, a Canadian data management and software company focused on monitoring harmful organisms in water.

OTAQ is investing CAN $300,000 (£175.5m) in the Canadian firm, and has signed  cooperation and licensing agreements which will ultimately allow OTAQ to incorporate Blue Lion’s specialty in artificial intelligence technology to analyse plankton monitoring data at fish farms.

The application will combine Blue Lion’s software expertise and OTAQ’s hardware to create an early warning system for detecting harmful phytoplankton, which causes serious losses for aquaculture businesses each year.

The investment agreement, OTAQ says, will build on and accelerate the development of its own plankton/algae bloom early detection system, with a view to achieving commercialisation within the next 18 months. As part of the agreement, OTAQ’s CEO, Phil Newby, will take a seat on the board of Blue Lion and will help to support its growth.

Blue Lion was established in 2018 by Dr. Jason Deglint and Dr. Katie Thomas, two PhD alumni from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, with expertise in machine learning and AI, and aquatic biology, respectively.  Blue Lion already has the support of incubator and mentorship programmes including Hatch, the Ocean Startup Challenge and NEXT Canada.

Dr Jason Deglint, CEO at Blue Lion, said: “The team at Blue Lion Labs is very excited to partner with OTAQ. This Investment and collaboration helps us in executing on our mission to develop innovative solutions to global water-quality issues. Combining our AI technology with OTAQ’s hardware platform and distribution infrastructure will provide both companies with an accelerated path to market.”

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