Fish farm innovation scoops honorary research fellow entrepreneur award

A graduate and honorary research fellow from the University of Glasgow has been named O2 X Awards male entrepreneur of the year 2009.

The award recognises the achievements of Dr Sunil Kadri’s company Optoswim Technologies which is set to bring significant benefits to the fish farming industry through an invention designed to keep fish fit.

The device, created by Dr Kadri and Dr Neill Herbert, with electronics and software designed and developed by staff of the Bioelectronics Unit of the Faculty of Biomedical & Life Sciences, creates moving light patterns within a fish farm cage to provide the illusion of a moving background which the fish respond to by swimming together as a shoal. The lights are configured to trigger the optomotor response of the fish, which provides an important visual cue to help coordinate schooling.

By ensuring the fish get enough exercise through this method, Dr Kadri says the fish can grow faster, have less fat, more meat and also have an improved food conversion efficiency of around 20 percent resulting in a £1,000 saving per month on fish feed, per average-sized salmon net pen.

Dr Kadri, who completed a PhD in salmon behaviour at Glasgow in 1995, founded Optoswim in October 2007, four years after he was first approached by Dr Herbert to help commercialise his idea of using the optomotor response to bring the known benefits of exercise to commercial aquaculture.

The idea was then developed using Proof of Concept funding from Scottish Enterprise and the company has signed heads of terms with Glasgow-based business angel firm Barwell plc for equity investment, with Scottish SEED fund support.

The system is currently undergoing in-field testing and has shown promising initial  results. A successful outcome will trigger SMART:SCOTLAND funding to examine the best future design to withstand the harsh marine environment while remaining easy to handle and appropriate for mass manufacture. This will be the first step in taking the product to market and Dr Kadri says there is plenty of interest in the product.

Sunil, a New Zealander, said: “We’ve had a lot of expressions of interest from Scottish, Norwegian and Chilean fish producers. There is certainly a huge market, with around 55,000 fish farm pens in intensive aquaculture worldwide. 

“If the field test results are good we hope to have the product available for purchase 18 months from now. We’re also starting to look at other products that we can bring to this market too.

“Winning the O2 award has been a real boost and is a real vote of confidence in the business.”

Sunil’s win in the O2 awards has won him a £5,000 cash prize, extensive PR, and one year of business mentoring from Scottish entrepreneur and Dragon’s Den star Shaf Rasul, who was part of the judging panel which awarded Sunil.


For more information contact Stuart Forsyth in the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 4831 or email s.forsyth@admin.gla.ac.uk

First published: 12 October 2009

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