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Andrew D Ive 00:00
Welcome to the Big Idea podcast, where we focus on food. Today, we’re going to be talking to the CEO and co founder of Fisheroo. Fisheroo, is a company from Singapore, focused on cell based fish, and seafood. Really interesting company, recommend you stick around and listen to the conversation and at the end we would love to get your questions and comments. Please do like and subscribe. And that’s it. Let’s get into the conversation. Thank you.
Andrew D Ive 00:36
For fisheroo, Welcome to the Big Idea podcast where we focus on food. How are you, sir?
Aaron Chua 00:43
Andrew, thanks so much for having me. I’m doing great.
Andrew D Ive 00:47
Awesome. I see this zoom background that looks super manufactured. Is this real? Are you actually sitting in a proper lab today? Or is this a manufactured background that makes you seem really intelligent and scary?
Aaron Chua 01:06
Okay, I’m actually currently running time point experiments at this point in time. So yeah, it’s real. It’s real.
Andrew D Ive 01:15
My background is real to time point experiments. We’ll get there in a minute, because I will go straight down a rabbit hole and people will be super confused. Why don’t we start with Fisheroo? Fisheroo is your company. You guys started this business a little while ago. Tell us what fisheroo does?
Aaron Chua 01:38
Yep, so for sure. It’s a party beta fish company and we are based in Singapore. And in fact, we are service agents first service Fish Company focusing on through me. So we are currently in our r&d phase and we are guided by our mission to redefine the norms of secret production. And by doing so we envision to be able to provide consumers like you and I sustainable, authentic and nutritious potable fish production in the near future.
Andrew D Ive 02:05
So cultivated Fish Company using well cultivated Fish Company. What kind of what, let’s break that down a little bit for people that might be coming to this sort of subject for the first time. Cultivated fish. What does what does that mean?
Aaron Chua 02:21
Right. So how you do beta fish, in fact, is actually also known as cell based fish. So we produce fish meat using cell based technology.
Andrew D Ive 02:33
Okay, fish me cell based technology. So that’s why you’re in a lab.
Aaron Chua 02:38
Yep, that’s right.
Andrew D Ive 02:41
Okay, so is this something for people to be nervous about? I mean, it doesn’t look very fishy to me. Or maybe it does look very fishy, depending on which which use term you use. But yeah, it doesn’t look very fishy to me, I’m not sure I like the idea of,you know, fish created in a lab. Explain why, you know, this is not something to be nervous about. Or maybe it is something to be nervous about.
Aaron Chua 03:10
Right. So, in fact, using Service technology on fish, what we do is actually growing the fish cells in a reading in a nutrition broth. And this nutrition broth is actually a mixture of carbohydrates, protein, and many new essential nutrients that are found already in fish. So what happens is replicating fish outside of the fish body in a mammoth tank. So the whole idea of fish production.
Andrew D Ive 03:41
Great, so multiplying fish cells using a broth of carbohydrates and so on, making them multiply,probably worth saying that your environment is sterile. In other words, you guys are creating cells in an incredibly clean, sterile environment when fish are growing, whether it’s through aquaculture, or you know, out in the, in the wild before they’re caught. They could be eating microbeads microplastics. Mercury,you tell me what what are the what are the risks of eating traditional fish versus growing the fish in a sterile environment like this?
Aaron Chua 04:30
Right, so fish in the natural environment exposed to a huge amount of methyl mercury microplastics that you mentioned, and also parasites. So over the past four years, parasites found in raw fish and increased by a factor of 283 times and that’s a huge number right there. So what we are doing here with service technology is to grow fish, assembly or other environment. So they are they will not be exposed to you know harmful substances like mercury or microplastics
Andrew D Ive 05:02
So no mercury, no parasites. In a clean environment. We used to call this sort of technology, clean meats or clean seafood. We had to stop that because the traditional seafood industry that traditional meat industry got all sort of uptight and bent out of shape that we were suggesting that their approach wasn’t clean. But you know, when you’re slaughtering animals, in an abattoir, on the meat side, and you’re dealing with blood, and feces, and cross contamination, all sorts of other things, you know, there’s an argument that it isn’t, at its core, a clean approach. And this, when you when you guys are growing this sort of meat in clean environments, it’s quite legitimately called Clean meat.
Aaron Chua 05:58
Yep, that’s right.
Andrew D Ive 06:00
So tell us where you’re at? Is this just a bi
Aaron Chua 06:06
Right, so currently, we are pretty early on in the r&d phase, where we actually been able to develop a proprietary sound line in our facility here in Singapore. So we are very excited for what’s to come. So currently, we are going to push the cells like cell lines into a stage of stability. Before we move into different phases of development. We the cell media formulation, be the scaffolding, and then the power reactor.
Andrew D Ive 06:31
Okay. So, again, I’m gonna ask you to break a lot of these things down for the folks who are new. Cell line, what what do you mean by your, you’ve developed a cell line?
Aaron Chua 06:42
Right, so we isolated cells from a particular fish species that we are looking at, able to grow them in a culture medium, and yet be able to grow well over the course of the period that we are observing.
Andrew D Ive 06:56
So so you don’t randomly just choose any regular fish and take itself and then try and grow it. You’re quite educated and sort of focused on all types of fish, what species of fish, maybe even where the cells are taken from on the fish, so that you can grow cells that do a good job. Is that Is that a good way of thinking about it?
Aaron Chua 07:23
Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. So we have specifically chosen a fish that is really popular within the Southeast Asian region, an ecommerce route, pretty high price points. So yes, he hosts really good economic value in that center. And so we are internally as well, we have also validated that patient as a potential candidate for production. So we are thinking graphic movies long term, so they ensure that at the end of day, after the fish, the fish, fish meat is created, and will be well utilized by classic streaming product manufacturers all over the world.
Andrew D Ive 07:58
Fantastic. So choosing a cell line, which has more value, which is more aspirational, which kind of fish that is paid, people pay a good price for makes sense. Where are you at from a production perspective? You mentioned that your early days as the cell line, etc? Where when do you think or how long do you think it will take you to get to the point where you’ll have a product per se.
Aaron Chua 08:30
Great. So we are actually looking towards a prototype within the next shop once. So that’s where we will be growing this app in your mouth. And so yeah, so Shawn, what is the timeline that internally looking at?
Andrew D Ive 08:44
So 12 months, every time I talk to companies in the cell based space, they talk about, you know, 2023, 2024 and this was, you know, a year ago, so you guys are talking about 12 months, that’s pretty impressive. You’ve mentioned bioreactor, I just want to make sure just again, for those people who are coming to this for the first time, this he said the cell line has been grown in a bioreactor that sounds super that again, that sounds pretty scary. Tell tell us what that actually means.
Aaron Chua 09:18
Right? So the bioreactor is actually a stainless steel, kind of like a pocket, where is like a container which allows cells to grow. It kind of simulates the perfect environment where cells are able to grow.
Andrew D Ive 09:33
Okay, so I’ve seen containers like that in beer in beer, breweries and things like that big, stainless steel containers where they do all of the brewing and keep everything in a specific environment. Is that basically what we’re talking about here? You’re calling it a bioreactor, but it’s a stainless steel container where everything goes in and grows?
Aaron Chua 10:01
Yep. It’s kind of like a similar concept. I guess many more other centers to ensure that the cells are going well, and he tells us a lot different other metrics. So ideally, it’s the same concept but actually there are some differences.
Aaron Chua 10:18
Andrew D Ive 10:20
Got it. And again, it’s a 100% clean environment. So that’s another kind of positive, all of the sort of downsides of traditional seafood is taken out of the equation in this case. So how is it that you guys are talking about 12 months to have a product and others in this in the kind of cell based clean meat space, are talking about years of production?
Aaron Chua 10:49
Right? So for us, we actually have a pretty big ecosystem of different collaborators between the different value chains, and the inputs, the different factors, the different FBS replacements, chemicals and bioreactor systems. So what this timeline is ready, we are going to pull off the collaborators together, and based on our internal projections, but that’s only a prototype. So yes, not a product that we are going to sell at this point. Yes.
Andrew D Ive 11:19
And you say, prototype in 12 months? Is that proof of concept? Or have you already arrived a proof of concept?
Aaron Chua 11:27
Well, that would be categorized asset growth concept.
Andrew D Ive 11:33
Okay, so 12 months to proof of concept. And then is there a time period by which you would set change that proof of concept to be able to create fissures in a quantity that could be sold?
Aaron Chua 11:48
Yep. So for commercialization wise fisheries, looking at 2025, where we’ll be selling, Moscwill be selling to me to classics, for me, product manufacturers, and so plant based companies are rather small scale, we are looking at low double digit tonnes.
Andrew D Ive 12:07
Okay. And this is going to be based in Singapore.
Aaron Chua 12:12
Yep. So we are starting in Singapore, and then we will expand to the Southeast Asian region before going to the Asia Pacific region.
Andrew D Ive 12:20
Okay, so give me a kind of feel for that in the next couple of years. Singapore.
Aaron Chua 12:27
Yeah, so 2025 will definitely be Singapore, and perhaps also the Southeast Asian region, which we are able to produce sufficient quantity. And then, in 2027, will be the entire Asia Pacific region, because my patrons seven, we also are looking at potentially a cost parity towards commercial.
Andrew D Ive 12:49
So that’s monthly, right.
Aaron Chua 16:51
Well, I guess for the industry standard, now, everybody’s using that mesh bioreactor system. And definitely, you’ve worked with the inefficiencies in the director. So, officially, we are exploring perfusion bioreactor, a lot of the new ones.
Aaron Chua 17:04
Aaron Chua 23:25
Andrew D Ive 23:26
So the three of you were working on Parkinson’s disease, that’s incredible and you stopped that to start growing fish?
Aaron Chua 23:36
Well, yes, it kind of faded because I was driven by my mission, or rather a new mission to redefine the nonstop stable production.
Andrew D Ive 23:48
I mean, that’s fantastic. That’s awesome. And so fisheroo started. That was how long ago now?
Aaron Chua 23:59
We actually started Idea thing in well, I guess, April last year, we added a thing we ideated. And then we officially incorporated in August in any month.
Andrew D Ive 24:10
Wow. So that’s less than it’s four months, four or five months?
Aaron Chua 24:15
Yeah, they’re about Yeah.
Andrew D Ive 24:17
August, September, October, November, December, six months. Sorry. I’m doing I’m doing all my calendar math, wrong. So your company’s been formed for six months. You’ve been talking about it for basically nine or 10 months. Tell us tell us what the last six months has been all about.
Aaron Chua 24:35
Right. So the last six months have been amazing. We have met a lot of new people. But most importantly in the lab, we have seen really great results coming out from our satelites. So that’s what we are super excited about. And you know, and that’s the reason why we are confident that we are looking at prototypes in the year 2022.
Aaron Chua 24:56
But definitely, it’s a big shift because you know from working 8 hours a day to maybe 14 to 16 hours a day. It’s definitely different but yes, feeling for myself and my co founders. And because we wake up every day, knowing that we are doing something that’s going to change the world for the better.
Andrew D Ive 25:17
That’s great. Okay, so six months, a lot of lab time. What about from a CEO business building perspective? You mentioned partnerships, were important to Fisheroo’s sort of success, helping you to break down barriers and so on. Are you finding the industry collaborative? How are you sort of broaching those potential partnerships?
Aaron Chua 25:42
Right, in fact, yeah, I guess you could, the service industry is not the most collaborative industry that, you know, people are willing to share what they are doing, and they’re willing to collaborate, not just in a transaction or like, no buddies for me. Yeah, we’re willing to collaborate. And I’m very delighted in the sense because, you know, once when the industry is collaborative, is able to move things even faster. So yeah.
Andrew D Ive 26:11
And you’re based in Singapore, Singapore is one of the centres of cell based innovation. The first country to deregulate the sale, production and sale of cell based meats, etc, for human consumption, is the Singaporean government, the Singaporean environment helpful?
Aaron Chua 26:35
Yes, definitely. So because we have a full suite of ecosystem here, facilities by the mullah, the lab, I’m currently in allows us to develop operate out smoothly, and the Singapore government is super supportive in the sense that there are many grants that we can apply for, that will help us financially. And of course, there are strategic partners in Singapore that could help us in our R&D as well.
Andrew D Ive 27:01
And they’ve got a government goal of being able to produce far more of their own food internally. So I know, right now, Singapore imports more than 90% of the food it consumes from outside, so from its neighbors and so on. 2030 They want to produce 30% of their own food, I think from you know, discussions with them, your type of company, your type of technology, is one of the key ways they think they’re going to get there.
Aaron Chua 27:36
Yeah, definitely. So, in fact they are looking to produce 30% in Singapore, the need for self in local nutritional needs in Singapore, and to establish technology, because we are doing we are producing in Singapore, that will allow us to reach that goal by 2030.
Andrew D Ive 27:57
Perfect, what do you need to grow your companies to the point where you can achieve your personal mission of changing the seafood industry?
Aaron Chua 28:11
Right? Definitely one is talent, we need more talent within the industry to come in to join us to create, you know, cell lines to catch up to Bliss development in the growth factors by reactors and all the other value chains within the industry. Number two, there will be money, more money, to be able to conduct r&d, you know, get higher talents. And definitely the third one will be on advisors, we are looking for advisors, actually at this point in time. So we are looking for advisors with diverse experience in the industry, service industry,essentially joining the food and the biomedical industry together. So we need advice from so we canmove forward.
Andrew D Ive 29:02
So advisors, money and talent, probably not in that order. If you were a person that was interested in a similar mission, solving, the food production, solving the kind of seafood industry and how it’s produced right now, etc. don’t want to sort of rag on rag on those guys but if your personal mission is to sort of reinvent the seafood industry, if I was interested in doing the same thing, if I was either a biologist, or even just, you know, I just I put in sort of air quotes, just a business person. What should I do? How would I How would you recommend I get involved in something like this? How would you know how do I pursue my personal mission if that was it to to start improving the food system?
Aaron Chua 29:56
Right, you can’t do drop me an email at Aaron at Fisheroo. You can visit our website and hit the Contact Us button and that will lead you to my email and then we can take it from there.
Andrew D Ive 30:10
So you want you want to seriously step up to sort of guide them and point them in the right direction.
Aaron Chua 30:22
Yeah, definitely if they’re interested in this industry, and over the past six months, I’ve actually met a lot of different people. So you know, I could definitely help them in my small way. One way or another. Definitely. Yeah.
Andrew D Ive 30:35
Awesome. Given give us that email again, email@example.com
Andrew D Ive 30:59
aaronchua, which is fisheroo.com
Aaron Chua 31:10
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