Aqua-Spark expands its portfolio with a cultivated bluefin tuna company

Continuing its commitment against overfishing, Aqua-Spark invests in the Israeli FoodTech start-up Wanda Fish Technologies, a developer of premium-quality cultivated fish outside of the ocean.
Wanda Fish team. Aqua-Spark is expanding its portfolio by investing in this cultivated bluefin tuna company from Israel. Photo: Chen Galili / Wanda Fish Technologies.
Wanda Fish team. Aqua-Spark is expanding its portfolio by investing in this cultivated bluefin tuna company from Israel. Photo: Chen Galili / Wanda Fish Technologies.

Aqua-Spark has taken a further step in its commitment to the future of the food system and has opened its portfolio to a new seafood production line by investing in Wanda Fish Technologies, Ltd. Thanks to this capital injection, the Israeli FoodTech start-up will boost its ability to accelerate a pilot production of cultivated bluefin tuna.

The Netherlands-based global investment fund focused on sustainable aquaculture led the round that has secured a total of USD 7 million (EUR 6.6 million) in seed funding for Wanda Fish.  In addition, returning pre-seed investors The Kitchen Hub by the Strauss Group, Peregrine Ventures, LLC, PICO Venture Partners, MOREVC, and CPT Capital, LLP. joined Aqua-Spark. Since its inception, the cultivated seafood producer has raised USD 10 million (EUR 9.4 million).

Sustainably farmed and cultivated seafood working in concert

Bluefin tuna is an expensive and coveted species, especially popular with high-end sushi restaurants. On the brink of extinction due to overfishing, governments have severely limited fishing quotas, and farming has come to be considered unsustainable due to feed resources, pen size requirements and the difficulty of captive breeding. Wanda Fish has made rapid progress on key developmental breakthroughs toward achieving a cultivated whole-cut bluefin tuna prototype to provide it with no impact to the ocean ecosystem.

The new capital injection secured by the Israeli company will enable it to boost its ability to accelerate the creation and scale-up of a whole cultured bluefin tuna fillet that replicates the texture, taste and nutritional value of wild-caught bluefin tuna. Composed of the fish's muscle and fat cells, their cuts contain the same native proteins and fatty acids, including omega-3s and other essential nutrients, but are free of common ocean contaminants, such as mercury. In addition, they are produced to non-GMO standards.

"In such a burgeoning and innovative sector, we are pleased to welcome Wanda Fish into our portfolio of companies based on the remarkable speed with which they've met significant milestones," stated Lissy Smit, CEO of Aqua-Spark. "We firmly believe in a future where sustainably farmed and cultivated seafood will work in concert with one another to alleviate the burden of overfishing, especially species like bluefin tuna which are deemed unsustainable to farm," she added.

As co-founder Amy Novogratz told WeAreAquaculture, from the moment of its conception Aqua-Spark was born to be a business that would increase ocean health. Moreover, after the important milestones achieved by some of its portfolio companies last year, from Impact Report 2022 it could be deduced the fund was ready to try to scale up sustainable solutions. "2022 was a year of record growth in aquaculture, further increasing the need to move this industry to healthy and sustainable production being the absolute industry norm," she had told us shortly before the report publication.

A shared mission to improve the global food value chain

Along with co-founder Daphna Heffetz – a leading figure in biotechnology-based innovation -, another investor involved in the project since its founding in 2021 and has been The Kitchen Hub. The firm, which specialized in the development and commercialization of new cutting-edge technology companies that can add value to the world food chain, has shown its enthusiasm to continue the project. 

"As the start-up's incubator, we've had the privilege of witnessing the immense progress Wanda Fish has made since their inception less than two years ago," said Jonathan Berger, CEO of The Kitchen FoodTech Hub. "Wanda Fish is transforming visionary ideas into a tangible, cutting-edge product that is just steps away from reaching its prototype. This is credited to a skilled and ambitious multinational team led by Daphna Heffetz that is undoubtedly poised for a resounding success story in the thriving alternative protein space; this spells good news for an overburdened marine ecosystem."

A shared enthusiasm for the co-founder and CEO of Wanda Fish.  "We are excited and feel incredibly fortunate to collaborate with Aqua-Spark in propelling our venture forward," Daphna Heffetz stated. "We are on a shared mission to improve the global food value chain, creating a tasty, more sustainable future for all. This financial backing by leading global venture funds gives us significant leverage to make sustainably cultivated, cruelty-free, and ocean-friendly bluefin tuna a reality."

As previously explained, with its proprietary technique, Wanda Fish can accurately control the fat levels of its end products. This enables the creation of a wide range of fillet cuts, including the coveted Toro premium cut.

About Aqua-Spark & Wanda Fish

Active in 22 countries with investors across 33 countries, Aqua-Spark is a global investment fund building a portfolio of solutions across the aquaculture value chain with the ability to transform the industry into one that is healthier, more sustainable, and more accessible. With just shy of EUR 500 million in assets under management, each investment is chosen for its potential to generate financial returns while also activating positive environmental and social outcomes.

Wanda Fish Technologies, Ltd. is a cutting-edge company spearheading a more sustainable future for ocean seafood. Through disruptive technologies, they produce a variety of whole-cut cultivated premium fish filets outside of the ocean. The company's first product in development is the whole-cut cultivated bluefin tuna filet composed of the fish's muscle and fat cells. It comprises a highly skilled multidisciplinary team.

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