Innovation Interview: How Bionomous is revolutionizing aquaculture
Bionomous is driving innovation in aquaculture thanks to its groundbreaking technology for egg sorting. Thanks to AquaSorter, fish farms will move from a manual, labor-intensive process to an AI solution that will improve quality control, boost survival rates, and increase profitability.
We recently spoke with Ana Hernando Ariza, COO & Co-founder, who shared more about the company and its recent win for AquaSorter through Innosuisse´s Swiss Accelerator.
Ana Hernando Ariz, Binomous COO & co-founder, is a biologist specialized in Molecular and Cellular Biology,
with experience in branding and marketing strategy.
When you first started, you were not aiming for the aquaculture industry. Can you walk us through your journey up to now?
Bionomous started with the identification of a need. The idea of the EggSorter started in 2017 when Frank Bonnet, CEO & co-founder of Bionomous, was working on a European project together with zebrafish researchers. Zebrafish is a 4 cm freshwater fish widely used in Life Science research. One of the most interesting points of zebrafish as a model are their embryos (eggs and larvae) which are used for toxicity screening, drug development and basic research.
The manual sorting of zebrafish embryos is taking the valuable time of researchers and it is a tiring and, thus, error-prone task, so here is where Bionomous comes into play. Our technology was designed to sort these fish eggs automatically, and we quickly saw that it could be adaptable to other entities, such as fish eggs from other species used in aquaculture.
What do you think will be the biggest impact of the AquaSorter?
There is a noticeable increase in the demand for food, including fish. Aquaculture has a majority position in the supply of fish but current methods for processing eggs are not appropriate for this growing demand.
By automating the egg sorting, with the AquaSorter, we will help to maximize hatching and healthy growth, thus minimizing time and costs. The AquaSorter will contribute to standardizing the quality control of fish eggs in hatcheries, resulting in increased survival rates, increased profitability by reducing hatchery labor costs and feed costs, and increased production.
How has Innosuisse supported Bionomous’ growth?
Innosuisse has supported Bionomous since its foundation. Since 2019, when we first started, we have been part of the Innosuisse Core Coaching program. This program has provided us with support in all the different aspects that are important for a new business: business development and strategy, marketing and sales, leadership and funding. The Innosuisse network has had a great impact on meeting investors, partners and coaches. We recently obtained the Innosuisse Certification, which demonstrates the company’s achievements within the framework of the coaching program.
Innosuisse has also supported Bionomous in the development of new products: in 2021 we received an Innosuisse grant to develop the LarvaeSorter, together with the CSEM (Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology), and now, in 2023, they have supported us with the AquaSorter.
What role has collaboration with Evolution played in Bionomous’ funding strategy with the Swiss Accelerator?
Evolution Europe has been a key piece in this success story. Their sharp knowledge on the funding process as well as their engagement pushed and challenged us in all the three different phases of the selection process. They gave us plenty of tips to prove to the jury our capacity to fulfill this ambitious plan and they provided the support needed for the pitch as well, training us to be ready for all possible questions. The advice continues after the grant, as they have been giving us support with reporting and administration.
We highly recommend working with Evolution Europe for their deep knowledge, professionalism and friendly team.
We are convinced that this product will not only allow to increase the productivity and reduce the costs of fish farms, but also increase scientific knowledge on fish production, which can lead to new research and development projects.
What’s next for Bionomous following the Swiss Accelerator project? Is there room for more innovation in the aquaculture industry?
After the end of the AquaSorter project, the main goal for Bionomous will be to work on bringing the product into production and commercialisation. However, we are also convinced that this product will not only allow to increase the productivity and reduce the costs of fish farms, but also increase scientific knowledge on fish production, thanks to the data produced by the machine, which can lead to new research and development projects in collaborations with our users.
Do you have any advice for startups navigating a difficult funding landscape?
We had of course several failing funding attempts in our history, but the experience and feedback received have allowed us to improve and refine our strategy, which at some point became more successful. Therefore, keep trying, the day will come!
Thank you, Ana, for sharing Bionomous´ journey with us. We look forward to following your company´s growth and learning more about new applications of your technology!