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Norwegian fish farm.

Eco-friendly method to fight salmon lice under development

Seacalx AS is a start-up that originates from research at the Insitute of Marine Research (IMR) in Bergen. The company is based on the invention of Hans Kristian Strand and Torstein Harboe from IMR. The idea is to use a special form of particulate burnt lime against salmon lice.

The idea came in conjunction with their work to use burnt lime to decimate sea urchin, that were out of control and were grazing down seaweed in parts of Porsangerfjorden in the north of Norway. During testing they observed fish swimming in and out of clouds of burnt lime, and the fish were apparently unaffected by the lime particles. The question they then asked, was: could burned lime harm salmon lice without affecting the fish? This was the start of a long journey to investigate if the sea urchin-method could be used to fight the biggest problem of the aquaculture industry – the salmon lice.

The idea was formally submitted to VIS late 2010, and the company was established in 2012. VIS swiftly helped the company recruit an industrial investor. VIS has also successfully supported Seacalx through two rounds of FORNY funding from the Norwegian Research Council. The company has received IRD-funds from Innovation Norway and Horizon 2020 funds from SME instruments (phase 1). The development of the company has been more demanding then assumed, with sometimes varying results. Therefore, there has been a heavy focus on further Research and Development (FoU), and in 2015 Pål Haldorsen was recruited as the company´s new CEO. Haldorsen was recruited from the position as the Regional Director of Marine Harvest South. Seacalx now consists of seven employees, with interdisciplinary skills, including pharmacy, chemistry, veterinary and engineering competence. There has also been established cooperation with a number of research institutes, including The Salmon Lice Senter (SLRC) and the Center for Pharmaceuticals at the University of Bergen. Through R&D cooperation there has been written three theses, and a fourth is being prepared.

VIS has from the start been heavily involved in the company, obtaining funding, providing support to the CEO and through our presence at board of directors. In total, there has been invested more than 40 million NOK in the company. The development has been very positive lately, and the company is now undergoing full-scale clinical studies. If they succeed in their studies, the company is one big step closer to a marketing permit for its environmental friendly preparation to fight salmon lice. Then we will get closer to the answer – whether the initial idea of Hans Kristian Strand and Torstein Harboe can help fight the salmon lice problem in the aquaculture industry.

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