Halifax-based ReelData AI, which uses artificial intelligence to improve production in fish farms, has added Denmark’s Atlantic Sapphire to its growing customer list.

The deal means that ReelData’s technology will be used at Atlantic Sapphire’s farms in Denmark and the U.S., including its new Bluehouse plant in Florida, the world’s largest land-based fish farm.

Founded by Dalhousie University computer science grads Matt Zimola and Hossein Salimian, ReelData has developed software that analyzes video from inside aquaculture tanks to determine the biomass and health of the fish stock, and ensure the fish are getting just the right amount of food. The company also learned this week that it made the shortlist of the 20 top companies in the prestigious MassChallenge accelerator in Boston. 

“ReelData's technology is going to help scale the global aquaculture industry,” Thue Holm, Atlantic Sapphire CTO and Co-Founder, said in a statement. “By having a system like ReelData's in place, we can further optimize fish welfare and growth, which are key to maximize the volume of delicious Bluehouse salmon we can supply to the market, and our company’s profitability.”

Zimola and Salimian founded ReelData in 2018 to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to help fish farms improve operations and reduce costs, and is now focusing more on land-based operations.

“The land-based industry has really taken off,” said Zimola in an interview Friday. “It’s set to grow really rapidly so we’re mainly looking at partners with land-based fish farms.”

ReelData’s software analyzes underwater images collected through small cameras installed in each tank and tying into key processes. It identifies key objects and behavior to gauge the metrics that matter most to fish farmers.

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The company offers non-intrusive measurements from inside tanks to help fish farms estimate biomass distribution and optimize feeding systems. The founders are working towards providing early detection of population health problems such as stress. These technologies will enable land-based fish farms to maximize profits and minimize risk while keeping fish happy and healthy.

Atlantic Sapphire is a leader in the trend of land-based fish farms, which are considered more sustainable because the fish are not exposed to sea lice and their waste does not pollute coastal waters.

After developing operations in Denmark, the company this year is opening its Bluehouse project near Miami, to produce salmon close to U.S. customers and reduce greenhouse gases produced by transportation. 

ReelData, which has nine employees, now has clients in Denmark, the U.S., and Iceland, and has a sales meeting lined up with a potential client in Norway.  Zimola expects to raise a round of funding in 2021.

The company was accepted into Mass Challenge this summer, a leading accelerator that generally accepts 100 participants each year from thousands of global applicants.

For the second year in a row, an oceantech company from Halifax has done better than any other Canadian startup in the program. Last year, Ashored Innovations was the only Canadian company in the program, and finished in the top three. This year, ReelData is the only Canadian company to make the short-list of top companies in MassChallenge.

Zimola said the company has been helped by the other accelerators it attended, like Techstars Montreal and Propel, both of which he described as "absolutely amazing".

Said Zimola: "Our team is excited to have launched our system with Atlantic Sapphire and look forward to expanding our artificial intelligence expertise within the land-based industry, creating solutions for optimizing fish health, water quality, and feeding."