Aqua Perception - Mostafa Azghadi & Alzayat Saleh
TNQ Hone 2023
8 May 2023
Mostafa Rahimi Azghadi and Alzayat Saleh are co-founders of AquaPerception.
AquaPerception creates innovative AI solutions to improve aquaculture and increase productivity, quality and profitability. They do this through real-time monitoring and optimization of aquaculture operations.
Through their research work at JCU, Mostafa and Alzayat, came to realise that conventional assessment methods for aquaculture product quality such as sensory analysis, physicochemical analysis, and rheological methods are time-consuming and intrusive. In addition, most current aquaculture processing data collection schemes rely on manual labour which is expensive and susceptible to human error.
The team believe that it is possible to leverage automation and AI to deliver non-intrusive and cost-effective methods for aquaculture animal monitoring during processing. AquaPerception provides a method and a system for automated prediction of characteristics (e.g. physical features and/or condition) of aquaculture animals, using machine learning and computer vision.
Over the course of the Hone Program, Mostafa and Alzayat were engaged and eager participants, always showing up and putting in effort. They have made excellent progress from a theory with a broad range of possible applications to a much more focussed customer segment, go to market strategy and innovation solution.
Governance issues to be tidied up such as founder and shareholder agreements, which are quite complex with the involvement of the university in commercialising the research. They did quite a lot of work around customer personas and brand identity, launching their website www.aquaperception.com during the course of the program. The business is a high touch, low volume, high transaction value with customisation of systems. To this end, their sales channels rely more on personal relationships and brand credibility and reputation than volume based marketing. Following the Hatch program, the team had already established contact with one of Australia’s largest prawn farming operations and this has created an opportunity to partner with them for field trials in order to prove the concept in a commercial operation and start to quantify, in the real world, the benefits and features of their innovation. Their go to market strategy reflects this staged approach.
After exploring various aquaculture production systems and markets, the team have settled on vertically integrated medium- to large-scale prawn operations as their main customer segment. They have proven their technology in trials using fin fish like barramundi, and are now working on adapting this technology to pivot into the prawn industry, focussing on capturing data associated with characteristics such as weight, size, defects and disease, in order to correlate with production practices and leverage data driven decision making to improve commercial outcomes for their customers. Their hardware component is at MVP stage and in place in several commercial sites in Northern Australia and they have prototyped the dashboard that works in parallel with the visual sensing equipment. Together this solution enables prawn processors to:
optimise health and growth, remove sub-standard product, reduce labour costs, obtain accurate stock data, and identify market ready product
AquaPerception have a patent pending on their innovation solution and during the course of Hone, undertook detailed competitor advantage and are confidently able to map how their unique value proposition sets them apart.
The bootcamp sessions were great, especially the business development plan and the one-on-one coaching.
Their next stage of development includes a capital raise effort seeking $1M investment for: Product development, to integrate more data sources in their AI analytics and to carry out further development of their hardware and software designs; Sales and marketing support, Customer support and Team expansion.