Cork-based Hatch to raise €75m to fund more aquaculture start-ups

Firm has partnered with Bord Iascaigh Mhara on numerous aquaculture initiatives

Hatch, a Cork-headquartered investment firm, which is behind the world’s first dedicated aquaculture accelerator programme, is seeking to raise €75 million for a new fund to invest in start-ups.

The technology investment firm has previously partnered with the seafood development agency, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), to run its accelerator locally. It also operates an ongoing innovation studio initiative, with the support of the State body, aimed at encouraging Irish start-ups to come up with sustainable solutions for the sector.


Other supporters of Hatch’s various programmes include the Irish Marine Institute and Cargill, one of the largest privately-held corporations in the United States.

Aquaculture, which covers the cultivation of aquatic animals and plants, in particular fish, shellfish and seaweed, is one of the fastest-growing areas of food production internationally. An increase in production to meet food supply and changes in lifestyle, and a rise in demand for a protein-rich diet, are among the factors leading to increased demand. However, overfishing and a rise in diseases and pollution linked to aquaculture has led to a demand for more sustainable solutions.


Allied Market Research recently forecast the global aquaculture market will be worth $378 billion by 2027, up from $285 billion in 2019.

Hatch, which was founded in 2017, has, to date, invested in 38 companies, run four accelerator programmes globally and raised $8.4 million from backers. It is now seeking to raise a second fund as it looks to take advantage of the opportunities.

Its co-founder and partner Wayne Murphy believes the Republic could be at the epicentre of the boom in aquaculture. Speaking to The Irish Times, he said the State’s expertise in fishing, its burgeoning reputation as a location for innovative start-ups, and its research centres, means Ireland already has all the pieces of the jigsaw necessary to become a hub.

“There are a ton of problems that exist in global aquaculture to be solved. For example, we need to grow three times more food in the next 30 years than we’ve ever grown before to meet future population demands,” he said.

Of the 38 companies to receive funding from Hatch, three have been Irish. Mr Murphy said he hoped the new fund would allow it to back more Irish entrepreneurs.


“We’ve double the amount of Irish-based applications for our next innovation studio programme kicking off next month, compared to last year. Enterprise Ireland are getting more engaged in the space and the Department of Agriculture and the Marine included aquaculture as an area for attention in its strategy to 2030 for the first time, so there is definitely an appetite to do more. It would be great to see this built upon,” Mr Murphy said.

Among the Irish start-ups to have received mentorship via Hatch is Plantruption, a company that is developing plant-based seafood. Last week, it announced it raised $500,000 (€426,000) from entrepreneur Sean O’Sullivan’s SOSV and been chosen to participate in its prestigious IndieBio accelerator in the US.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist