Artificial intelligence in fish tanks, thanks to a Fraunhofer-Startup cooperation

5.6.2018

Test of the camera systen and calibration on March 21st, 2018 in Flecken: Zechlin [v.l.n.r. Manikandan Calavai - COO MonitorFish, Chaitanya Dhumasker - CEO MonitorFish, Ralf Fisch - Fischzuchtexperte, Tim Dolereit - Wiss. Mitarbeiter IGD-R.]

Fish is essential for feeding the world. As natural fish stocks are far from sufficient, a large proportion of fish supply is ensured by aquaculture, and this proportion is predicted to reach 60% by 2030. But on average 40-100% of fish in an aquaculture are lost in incubation and thus a large part of the yield. Startup MonitorFish has developed an innovative solution and an interesting business model in cooperation with Fraunhofer.

From a vision to a successful cooperation project 

MonitorFish's founders use the latest technology to monitor fish stocks in real time and ensure the welfare of marine life. With the help of a cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research in Rostock (IGD-R), the young company wants to move closer to this project.

The aim of the cooperation is to develop a smart diagnostic system for intelligent monitoring of the condition of aquacultures for fish farming. Optical data from underwater images are to be semantically associated with animal welfare data, so that fish farmers can use software to monitor the health of their stocks and take timely countermeasures. Not only MonitorFish wants to benefit from the cooperation, but also the Fraunhofer Institute wants to enrich its research work. The scientific assistant Helmut Tödtmann of Fraunhofer IGD-R is a specialist in the field of underwater image processing and is particularly concerned with the improvement of image quality as well as the recognition and analysis of underwater objects. "A perfect addition to our team" says Dominik Ewald, founder of MonitorFish. 

Fraunhofer Venture as a Matchmaker

The cooperation between MonitorFish and Fraunhofer IGD-R is not a product of chance, but of active mediation by the TechBridge team of Fraunhofer Venture. The young entrepreneurs attended the "Startups meet Fraunhofer" event in Berlin at the end of November 2017 to establish contacts with Fraunhofer. "With great success", says Dominik Ewald, because with the connection to Fraunhofer Venture, in addition to match-making with the appropriate research institute as project partner, further doors were opened: the TandemCamp.

TandemCamp as a contest for start-up cooperations – a key to success? 

The TandemCamp is a TechBridge format and program of Fraunhofer Venture. The intention of the TandemCamp is to successfully initiate, consolidate and promote projects between startups and Fraunhofer institutes: both in communication, common vision, and in cooperation. The team constellation of MonitorFish and Fraunhofer IGD-R, their innovative strength and their proximity to customer needs convinced the jury of the TandemCamp. The tandem has already won a total of 70,000 € project budget through the TandemCamp. This funding is used specifically for joint work, which is a welcome, unbureaucratic support for the Institute's research work. MonitorFish also benefits from this, because the startup sees the Fraunhofer IGD-R as the "catalyst for the technical implementation of its vision," says Chaitanya Dhumasker, CEO of MonitorFish.

Helmut Tödtmann is convinced that cooperation with the start-up can open up new perspectives for researchers: "Start-ups provide a comprehensive insight into relevant markets and customer needs. These are things that researchers do not deal with on a daily basis."

The tandem between MonitorFish and Fraunhofer IGD-R proves that it is very successful to build bridges between young companies and Fraunhofer. Cooperation between startups and Fraunhofer Institutes promises good ideas and projects for the future. "We know what we want and we know what they can do," is how Dominik Ewald sums up the successful cooperation. The project is to remain in place in the long term, as important findings from pilot tests with the developed software and the algorithms used are being drawn from partner companies. Thanks to the Fraunhofer cooperation, MonitorFish's product is now ready for the market so quickly that the rescue of aquacultures can be achieved worldwide.