Campbell River is at the epicenter of the salmon aquaculture industry in B.C., so it’s fitting that one of the province’s fastest growing oceantech companies is headquartered in this Vancouver Island community.
Poseidon Ocean Systems designs and delivers innovative and industry-leading aquaculture solutions that lower costs, increase yields, and improve efficiency. Through the use of intelligent engineering and innovative design concepts, Poseidon reduces the environmental impact of salmon farming while increasing the durability and lifespan of critical infrastructure.
As the company continues to grow, its accomplishments continue to grow with it. Poseidon was named the winner of the first ever B.C. Aquaculture Innovation Awards, expanded its operations into South America, and received funding through the BC Fast Pilot Program to pilot their Flowpresser technology at two farm sites operated by Cermaq Canada. The pilot, which wrapped up late last year, was a resounding success and led to Cermaq cutting over 76,000 kg of CO2 emissions from their operations in 2021.
We sat down with Poseidon’s Co-Founder and CFO, Heather Clarke, to talk about the company’s recent successes, how they’re navigating global supply chain issues, and what’s on the horizon for the Vancouver Island tech company.
Tell us a bit more about Poseidon. What do you do and why did you start the company?
Heather: Poseidon Ocean Systems delivers innovative, industry-leading solutions for modern salmon farming operations.
Matt Clarke and I founded Poseidon back in 2015 with the belief that there was room in the industry for more engineering expertise, and we have focused on growing our team of mechanical, electrical, and software engineers locally here in Campbell River. Campbell River is the hub of Salmon Aquaculture here in B.C., so having technical staff available to meet with customers and tour their facilities has allowed us the opportunity to tackle many of their operational pain points and provide meaningful solutions for the industry.
What was it like taking part in (and winning!) B.C.’s inaugural Aquaculture Innovation Awards?
Heather: Exhilarating and inspiring! It was really exciting to hear from all of the competitors about technology advancements taking place in the industry. Our team rallied behind us to get our submission together and it was a great team building exercise from that perspective.
Behind the scenes, we actually had some technical challenges the day of the competition -- our Zoom connection dropped out while we were live and our video was playing for the audience! Thankfully we were able to reconnect before the video completed (the fastest three minutes of my life!) and the little glitch just added to the day’s excitement.
How is your company improving sustainability in the aquaculture industry?
Heather: Poseidon has focused our proprietary technologies in two distinct areas—Life Support Systems and Floating Cage Systems.
Our Life Support Systems are designed with efficiency and durability in mind. Flowpressor, our purpose built compressor system, has proven to reduce fuel consumption by 60% and has a design service life of 10 years -- roughly double what is being achieved with conventional compressors today. After the 10-year period elapses, the system is designed to be rebuilt and extended for another 10-year period.
Our Floating Cage System, Trident Hybrid, is the strongest and most durable system available globally. The System has been designed for a 20-year service life, with end-of-life recycling and circular economies in mind.
Together, our technologies assist farmers in further reducing their environmental footprint.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced while commercializing your R&D and how did you overcome them?
Heather: Like so many other businesses, we’ve seen major set-backs related to supply chain shortages over the last year, which added complexity to the commercialization process. To overcome these challenges our design team has worked closely with our operational team to secure critical items upfront, and kept other aspects of the design fluid as availability of materials ebbed.
COVID-19 protocols also reduced the frequency and duration of our field visits to customer farm sites, which made field validation testing and troubleshooting more challenging. We were incredibly fortunate to have patient partners with the Cermaq team while trialing the Flowpressor system, as the Cermaq staff would work remotely with our team for troubleshooting as necessary. We also got pretty creative with water tanks in our yard here in Campbell River for validation testing of our Oxypressor system.
All in all, we have a team of natural problem solvers at Poseidon, so there is always someone coming up with a solution for whatever challenges are thrown our way.
What’s next for Poseidon? Are there any updates on the horizon?
Heather: Over the last year, we’ve set up a sales office in Chile to help with our expansion into that market and we’re looking forward to showcasing our technologies at the AquaSur trade show in early March.
Also later this year, with the help of Innovate BC and NRC IRAP’s BC Fast Pilot program, we’ll be launching our Oxypressor system at one of Cermaq Canada’s sites. Oxypressor is an oxygen-generating variant of Flowpressor, and our initial results have shown efficiencies eclipsing Flowpressor’s 60% reduction in emissions—so we are incredibly excited to have those real world results in hand.
If you’re a B.C.-based tech company that’s looking to pilot your technology in real-world conditions, become an Innovate BC Insider to find out when the next round of BC Fast funding is available.