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A cutting edge platform for data management and analysis to assist European fish aquaculture in its development towards higher performance and competitiveness

Final Report Summary - FINDIT (A cutting edge platform for data management and analysis to assist European fish aquaculture in its development towards higher performance and competitiveness)

Executive Summary:
The FindIT project has developed a stand-alone Web-based platform for aquaculture hatchery and farm data management and analysis, which comprises a database for infrastructure, inputs and livestock monitoring where data can be provided manually or through sensors. Multi-variate analysis, using data mining technology, of farm operations and processes allows the rapid analysis of stock/farm performance and identification of drifts from anticipated results. Machine learning, from historical data/results, allows the proposal of process decision trees for the selection of variants and, hence, improvement. The flexibility of the system allows the incorporation of ancillary data for certification and standardisation measures.
Developed by a consortium containing ICT professionals and commercial hatcheries and farms, FindIT has demonstrated proof-of-concept in its approach to improving aquaculture operational performance analytics. Focusing initially on Northern (salmon) and Mediterranean (seabass/seabream) hatcheries and juvenile production, FindIT can be set up for both individual real-time site/farm monitoring or for comparative benchmarking. Focus has been given to simplifying data entry, notably by automating links to existing farm management software systems.
By accessing current and historical data, users are able to compare and analyse all aspects of farm management, including growth and food conversion, and access automatically generated reports on farm performance. Influences on juvenile malformations have also been quantified and assessed.
FindIT is now a functional prototype that, based on existing data from consortium partners, provides new data management possibilities. Use of FindIT has shown the value of analytics to decision making in both hatchery and farm management. The capacity to benchmark performance, in-house and through comparison to anonymous farm data, provides a valuable opportunity for self-assessment.
This approach has also identified the need for training and expert support services for rapid uptake of the system in professional circumstances.
The project has examined the issues of data ownership and intellectual property and has prepared draft license agreements so as to pursue data entry by new users, allowing the constitution of new and large data sets that are needed for applying the full capacity of FindIT. Expansion to other species and farming systems has been accommodated into FindIT’s design and operational capacity.
The consortium’s intention is to promote and develop FindIT further, through the creation of a new company that will host and operate the FindIT platform, provide training and support services and complete the development of FindIT. Decision for this will be taken upon agreement of a business plan by the consortium partners in 2016.

Project Context and Objectives:
Aquaculture development, in Europe and elsewhere, has been largely driven by biology (understanding the lifecycle), nutrition (optimising nutrition and diet), health (welfare, medicines, vaccines), selective breeding (new strains of improved performance) and engineering (rearing systems). Sectoral value-chain competitiveness is strongly influenced by a global seafood market and supplies, where the EU market now imports over 70% of its needs, a contributing factor to the stagnation of EU production.
Marketplace pressure imposes the need for increased sectorial competitiveness throughout the entire aquaculture value-chain. Raising technical competitiveness for aquaculture can be achieved through improvements in technology, broodstock-egg-larvae-juvenile quality, feeds, husbandry, monitoring and management. Within this holistic scenario, it is increasingly important for hatcheries and farms not only to understand and measure their own technical operations but also to be able to benchmark their performance so as to be able to measure, assess and predict their capacity for improvement, reflected by the combination of better product qualities and increased competitiveness in the market.
Technical competitiveness of the sector can clearly be raised through improved monitoring, husbandry and management. Marine fish farming is dominated by salmon, seabass and seabream culture while freshwater farming produces mainly trout and carps. Together, these species represent aquaculture production in Europe of over 1.8 million tons, worth over €8 billion. The holistic integration of data on ‘quality’ factors is a challenge, since many conditions or influences need to be monitored for process optimisation. Negative ‘quality’ can result in malformations, disease susceptibility, poor feed use and growth, giving weak performance. This situation is seen as being critical within the Mediterranean sector and of very high importance to all fish producers.
During the FP6 Collaborative Project “FineFish” project, the idea was conceived for developing a systematic approach to collect and analyse aquaculture hatchery data across sites and companies, whose existing data collection systems were rudimentary and lacked structural consistency. This project looked principally at skeletal and physical malformations in fish and looked to provide a consistent analytical tool to complement and support visual observations. ‘FindIT’ looks to boost the translation of this approach and its preliminary results within Finefish into an innovative, commercial integrated application for European aquaculture. Put simply, the FindIT project looks to provide an integrated ICT solution for aquaculture farm/hatchery data monitoring, using data mining and advanced analytics to give support to process and management decisions, improving performance and professional competitiveness.
As an innovative IT solution, ‘FindIT’ incorporates in its concept the enablement of sectorial benchmarking, allowing a hatchery to measure its own performance against consolidated [anonymous] data from other hatcheries. No formal tool existed for this approach before ‘FindIT’.
It was envisaged that the ‘FindIT’ prototype should be turned into a cloud-based data collection and storage system allowing professional aquaculture to be able to not only to organise, consolidate and store their monitoring data in a safe infrastructure but also to compute other Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are useful for both monitoring and benchmarking of individual aquaculture entities at a European level.
Seen as the most complex component of the professional sector, marine hatcheries appear as a key sector for potential users. The malformation rate of juvenile fish produced in hatcheries was used as the main KPI in FineFish but extra KPIs were seen as being needed to expand FindIT’s capacities to respond to the needs of the full professional sector.
With extensive data collection and analysis that goes far beyond univariate statistics – accompanied by innovative data mining techniques - critical factors can be discovered that explain the variability of these KPI’s. This can lead to the formulation of preventive and corrective actions that will continuously improve the competitiveness of hatchery and ongrowing operations, supporting future strategic decisions.
As a functional prototype, the original FindIT platform is to be developed so as to provide a unique way to manage, in a centralised and standardised manner, hatchery/farm data, compute KPI’s, compare performance and diagnose drifts in these KPI’s. FindIT will be used and tested in an operational environment by end users involved in the project; this will allow refinement of the operating system and interfaces with users.
To quantify and fill the actual market gap identified originally for FindIT, its usefulness and applicability must be demonstrated in order to motivate hatchery operators to fully understand the possibilities and advantages, thus committing to providing the information that will, in fact, make the system work.

Core project objectives
1. Integrating data in the FindIT system
To be truly functional, “FindIT” needs more integrated data in its database – larger datasets are needed so as to achieve the benchmarking and comparative referencing that will enable true data mining to be achieved. Having access to adequate data (quantity and quality) is the key to demonstrate significant value to a ‘client’ but this requires additional time investments by farm/hatchery personnel. The capacity will be developed so as to integrate additional information for quality control and certification and other information useful for individual hatchery performance evaluation (Carbon footprint, Life Cycle Assessment, etc.).
2. Extract knowledge with data mining to increase predictability
Data mining will identify structure and meaning in large unstructured datasets but the value of the system relies on access to large amounts of data. There will be a lag phase before clear benefits can be demonstrated to the clients of the system. Providing a predictive capacity within FindIT, measured alongside drift from predictions, will reduce operational risk – an important consideration where production cycles are measured in years (2-3) rather than in months (cf. poultry).
3. Improve the usability of the system
While “FindIT” needs only minor work to be tailored to different production systems, such as ongrowing fish farms, it is necessary to develop specific attributes to ease wider acceptance by the market. These include:
• attaining compatibility (automatic data extraction & uploading) with other commercial IT products and standard data collection systems in generally (production/management oriented)
• providing a user-friendly interface for data entry and data quality control
• providing automatic queries (to the database) & easy query formulation for on-site data analysis
• providing automatically-generated reports
4. Training support for the marketing strategy
A training strategy has to be put into place carefully to create awareness of the capacity and capabilities of the system. This will create new needs in terms of skills and competences so that technicians/managers will be able to use the system efficiently.
Training will also increase the acceptance of a new approach to data management and analysis. FindIT is not just about having access to new software, it is about generating a new understanding of the complete value-chain of the data life-cycle in hatcheries, which can change the way that hatcheries are operated through a better understanding of the value and use of data archived within the FindIT system.
Both management and organisational training will be needed and associate training materials have to be developed so as to fit this approach within the specificities of the different marine hatchery components of the European fish farming sector.
5. Extensive support and maintenance of the system for early FindIT users
Support and maintenance of the system is also a key to the acceptance of FindIT so that users will have enough support to configure and use the system properly and efficiently. As the system is taken up by more users, it is expected that misunderstandings and blocks will occur and new developments and improvements of the system have to be anticipated so as to improve the user experience.
6. Develop a business model and a service line
The business model for FindIT has to be clarified so that the right users are targeted and a viable and sustainable revenue stream is generated. Services will be defined and implemented on the top of the FindIT kernel using commercial software examples as the base service model.
Nonetheless, given the interest demonstrated by the original Finefish Consortium, several of which are partners in this project – including the FEAP which is the guardian of the IP rights of the Finefish project – it is anticipated that an attractive economic business plan and business model would lead to the creation of a spin-off company whose core activity would be the commercialisation and support/development of FindIT.
The experience of Pepite, combined with sectorial knowledge of the other partners – including the outreach capacity of the FEAP – is essential for the elaboration of a comprehensive and credible business plan that will lead to the participants, potentially including previous FInefish consortium members, investing in a new spin-off company that will commercialise FindIT.
FindIT will thus provide an innovative market-led application, as a cloud-based subscription-oriented resource, that will provide analytical and predictive causal analysis in aquaculture, raising the quality of production and contributing to significant improvements in aquaculture processes and planning.
By improving both competitiveness and quality, in hatcheries and ongrowing farms, FindIT will provide a valuable and unique tool that contributes to raising management and economic performance, thus contributing to the sustainable development of European aquaculture.

Project Results:
1. Market for FindIT
One of the first tasks was to define the clear market needs for the FindIT tool in terms of data collection and management, data analysis, KPI analysis and benchmarking options. FindIT services of potential value and interest to various stakeholders needed to be defined and developed for testing.
The analysis achieved within the project highlighted the difference in current status, production and sectoral structure, of the different sub-sectors within European aquaculture, highlighting the potential for FindIT within these. Key conclusions for the EU sector were:
• The fish farming sector, in number, is dominated by small (SME or family) companies; this means that it is likely that there are no specific [trained or specialised] data managers in these companies.
• On the other hand, the larger companies make significant investments to improve competitiveness, particularly in automation of manual tasks or to improve technical performance.
• Providing a relatively inexpensive means to improve performance is an attractive option for all sectors.
Using an updated analysis, from publicly-available statistics and interviews within the professional sector, the following outline was developed for Europe (including EU + Norway + Turkey + Faroe Islands):
• Number of companies in salmon farming = +/- 400 with at least 1300 operating sites.
• In bass/bream farming, +/- 800 companies active in the sector in the EU and Turkey, noting that there has been less overall consolidation than in the salmon sector but big integrated companies exist in Greece, Turkey and Spain. No accurate estimate on site numbers
o +/-60 professional hatcheries in operation
o Greece (433 million juveniles), Turkey (332), Spain (112), Italy (100), France (80) and Cyprus (27) are the most important juvenile producers in the Mediterranean area.
• From the major producing countries in the EU, a total of a minimum of 800 SMEs and family companies are active in the portion-size trout sector (<1 kg individual size).
• Newly developed sectors, including sturgeon (caviar and turbot) have to be approached on a case-by-case basis but reflect technically-advanced operations, often using water recirculation and are closely monitored. Corporate numbers much lower (+/-50 for sturgeon and +/-6 for turbot)
• Potential clients for FindIT in Europe number >2200 companies, where probably ~150 could be classified as being of ‘industrial’-level.
o The Salmon and Mediterranean Hatchery sectors were identified as being the most likely ‘early’ clients for FindIT; well represented in the consortium, this position was confirmed in project meetings and debates.
The main features of FindIT – data management, reporting, benchmarking and analytics – are of interest to all sectors. It has been observed that the salmon market is more into the analytic feature of FindIT, explaining drifts in performance and providing predictive measures. A high priority for the Mediterranean market is benchmarking, which is totally lacking now. The key issue here is establishing client confidence in the data collection mechanisms, confidentiality and sharing conditions. Only a watertight system of data protection the tool can be convincing for success in this approach.
The project has highlighted the operating differences between the Northern salmon and the Mediterranean marine sector (key partner producers in the FindIT project consortium), which produces mainly (sea)bass and (sea)bream. In the salmonid sector, specialised software is widely used for data recording and production management. Thus, it was recognised that any new software tool must be compatible with existing software, and should not aim to replace the systems which are already in operation. In bass and bream production however, data management is less automated, and using FindIT as a tool for data management and control is a highly relevant option.
In defining the market strategy for the product, the main markets: the salmon sector (hatchery and grow out), the bass/bream sector (hatchery and grow out) and the feed sector. Other potential interest could come from research institutes, producers of ‘new species’ and case-by-case requests (e.g. vaccine companies).

2. FindIT software design and development
In line with the observed divergence in scope, the finalized list of KPIs proposed in the project differed between the bass/bream sector (Mediterranean) and the salmonid sector (Northern Europe). Developing a concerted list of KPIs for each of these sectors was considered as a major achievement, being the necessary foundation for the development of the FindIT analytical tools.
• For the salmonid cold-water sector, the corresponding list of KPIs was limited to 11 items.
• For the marine Mediterranean sector, focus was on bass and bream production where 32 quality-, cost- or productivity-related KPIs were defined.
In identifying the technical advances foreseen by using FindIT, the common expectations for all FindIT users can be summarised as follows (which can used to define relevant user cases).
1. Improved reporting capabilities
2. Benchmarking options
3. Access to data mining options, with possibilities for root-cause analyses and to be able to use the ‘decision tree’ options for production control
4. To be able to understand unexplained variation in fish quality and productivity: Why presumptive “good” fish groups turn out bad, and “bad” fish groups do well.
5. To be able to detect drift in operative parameters between production cycles and years
6. To be able to identify deviations from planned course of production and analyse causes as well as consequences
7. To be able to understand variation in production success, between cycles and between years
The FindIT database has to be consistent for all sectors, so as to enable effective analysis and benchmarking capacity.
A full analysis of the technical requirements for the hatcheries and farms, made through extended discussions within the project consortium, has resulted in the incorporation of 4 functional platform areas in the new FindIT tool:
• Farm structure administration (i.e. tanks, water, lighting)
• Data collection and visualisation
• Benchmarking
• Data Analysis and continuous improvement tools

These four sections have data visualisation functions (by list and/or by graph) with filtering options to limit the amount of data displayed.
A web interface was developed in order to allow the user to configure an individual hatchery, farm or site and the parameters that the user/manager is interested to follow. Based on their personalised configuration, the user can then either introduce data manually or through an automatic upload using files developed from a specific worksheet template.
Pepite has worked throughout the project, using proposals and feedback from project partners, on facility enhancement and putting new features into FindIT in order to be more efficient, more secured, and more careful about the quality of data placed within the system. New data source possibilities and new data parameters and concepts have been included in FindIT. This also put a focus on having FindIT as an evolutive Minimum Viable Product (MVP) instead of being a non-working ‘black box’ that would be kept on hold until a final release.
Examples of these new concepts introduced include ‘observations’ (e.g. notes and data observations on a stock or process), ‘scoring’ (e.g. for degrees of malformation) and ‘feed’ (e.g. following individual feed formulations). These are more flexible attributes that can be set up to the user’s individual requirements.
The web interface has thus much evolved and adapted so as to handle these new concepts developed during the project. Four sections are now available to handle collected data (plus the farm items and parameters configuration sections).

3. Data Collection
The key to the success of the tool is the assured data collection mechanism and much effort was deployed to define a simple and flexible data format that could suit both kinds of users (equipped or not with a formal data collection system). During the project, the collection of data by the users continued on a regular basis, which was essential to reach big enough datasets and enable the analytic features of the platform to be tested.
The data import system has also undergone many improvements. A standard import ‘engine’ was built, anticipating and helping future development for the integration of new data sources. At this stage, two kinds of data sources are available:
• Data Extraction File (CSV format) source, using a fixed template, completed by the user
• Automatic connection (developed for AquaFarmer (Mercatus) – used by project partner), to grab data collected by this commercial farm data management tool
Data collection and entry is recognised as being a tedious task for users – particularly at the beginning of FindIT use, since no visible results or data analysis can be achieved, due to the small size of datasets. Analysis only becomes effective (and convincing) once adequate data has been entered.
A lot of attention has been paid to the consistency of the data imported in the system, both from the technical point of view and the biological point of view. A good collaboration between the IT and the farmer were required to bring this to life.
It was a continuous task to help partners to push their data in the system, via specific workshops (on site) or via telephone and conference calls. This aspect underlined the needs for training and help-line support for future commercial activity. In parallel, PEPITe and partners exchanged continuously the Data Extraction Files, containing real and actual data from the farms, in order to make them compatible with the fixed generic template format. These iterations took some time and effort, more than expected initially. This experience also highlighted the need for users to be able to better use Worksheet tools (e.g. Excel) and/or have the automatic connection to farm data management tools so as to match the FindIT database structure.

4. Data export and analysis
One of the main goals of the FindIT portal is to bring the collected data to the analytical tool DATAmaestro. DATAmaestro is a tool that was initially built 12 years ago and that has been evolving continuously since then, so its structure is flexible and adapts to almost all the cases. The way that data is moved from the FindIT database into DATAmaestro (a separate analytical tool provided as background by Pepite) has been adapted, with new options added. Much work has been devoted to the optimisation and integration of all the new concepts developed for FindIT into the Datamaestro export facilities.
The core difficulty is to transform the raw data recorded daily in FindIT into a good format oriented for analysis in DATAmaestro, leaving the expert user understanding the process and keeping the essence and knowledge inside the data. A lot of treatment is done on the data pushed in FindIT by the operational people in order to extract to DATAmaestro (the analytical tool) more powerful and efficient inputs.
Regarding the reporting facilities of the FindIT tool, data visualisation and filtering have been the main focus. Three main sections in the visualisation and reporting section have been developed:
• collected data (measures, observations, movements, feed)
• global monitoring and
• global dashboard (with analytics).
The performance of recommended analytics depends a lot on the data quality and the analysed process. In order to evaluate the performance of such analytics, the expertise is required of qualified expert people who are involved in the process. It was decided to use specific cases and request the testimonial of the experts of the industry. These cases have shown very good results and have been presented during tradeshows and discussions with potential customers.
It is clear that the combination of the analytic and predictive tools is a key selling point for the FindIT system, providing convincing and attractive results.

5. Validating FindIT functionality & features
A major activity during the project’s second year was the validation of the system’s performance by
• verifying functionality of the different services developed and
• by exploring the working potential of services developed in collaboration with end-users.
This was achieved via agile development that allows the users to always have access to a tool to work with, maybe with less functions or a poorer user interface, but with the ability to be test the system (and functionality) and to create a good improvement backlog. The backlog is then implemented on a continuous improvement process, phase by phase (sprint by sprint).
Consortium partners were questioned about the gaps and extra features that FindIT should offer, which has highlighted the following
• A seamless integration of data transfer/export without doing work twice is a must (one button), both for historical data versus new (daily) data registration.
• Extension to the different (species) grow out sectors will follow
• Inclusion of broodstock data and follow-up
• A leading pharmaceutical company that is interested to use the tool to assess the effect of vaccines on species performance.
• Economic KPI’s should be included in a future version.
• Aggregation of information for quality & certification schemes
This is a non-exhaustive list that demonstrates that FindIT cannot stand still and should be seen as a tool that will continuously evolve and adapt to professional needs and developments.

6. FindIT analytical validity
Until adequate data were placed within the FindIT system, it was not possible to validate the predicted capacity of FindIT to provide what it promised. This reflects the chicken and egg position of needing the data before analysis could start. With daily monitoring of water parameters (temp, pH etc) accompanied by fish stock movements, growth rates etc., these results provide comparable positions to those provided by ‘traditional’ farm management software.
Following the provision of data by the ‘production’ consortium partners, automated analysis and predictive decisions was made possible and achieved. These actions and results, described in detail in deliverables D4.5 (salmon) and D4.7 (bream), provided not only proof of concept but also confirmation that the tools of DataMaestro work.
Analysis of influences on (examples):
• The effects of water quality (nitrate concentration) on salmon growth
• Optimum temperatures for juvenile growth in hatcheries
• Influences on malformations in seabass in a Mediterranean hatchery
Were generated through the FindIT system, using on-farm data, and validated/confirmed by consortium scientific experts.
This work represents a highly important step forward for the project since it demonstrated clearly the following:
• Validation of the concept of using multi-variate analysis
• Accuracy of FindIT-generated decision-trees for process improvement
• Reliable data organisation within FindIT
• Consistency of data movements from existing management systems into FindIT
The importance of the proof of concept cannot be underestimated since FindIT can now clearly show not only the analytical services anticipated (easy-to-use dashboard of current performance of KPIs in the farm/hatchery) but also the decision support system for improved planning and farm/hatchery operation.

7. FindIT service requirements
Including other farms and large companies that are not in the consortium as FindIT users has been recognised as both a technical and commercial challenge. The project’s experience clearly indicates the need for trained experts in FindIT use (including analytics) that will assist the new user to use the platform and tools in the best possible way. Smaller and even large companies do not necessarily employ qualified data managers and analysts. Effectively, FindIT adoption means the creation of new job descriptions for user companies, since personnel will be expected not only to enter data (anticipated to become increasingly automated) but also achieve specific analytical functions.
While many functional updated graphs/reports have been designed and can be generated automatically, it is believed strongly that the analytical functionality of FindIT use has to be well understood and required training. Such training and associate support services will be needed in different professional aspects (farm administration, KPI management...). These services will have to lead to recognition of benefit prior to results being obtained. One of the best ways identified for this is to input historical data; however such data is likely to be disparate and time-consuming to organise and input if proprietary farm management software has not been used before.
Marketing FindIT will therefore need to provide potential clients with information on clear benefits obtained from its use; the profiles/skills of the (in-house) FindIT users must be clarified and support services provided by FindIT must be effective, well defined and costed.
The services that FindIT needs to provide could be categorised in different levels:
• The basic version could provide data encoding and KPI calculation and standard reporting.
• A plus version could add on advanced reporting and benchmarking features, and
• A premium version could provide in depth KPI analysis, process drift detection and predictive analysis.
The FindiT tool, comprising these different service level agreements, would be provided with adjusted costs, the premium version being the most expensive versus the basic version being the cheapest version.
Under ‘optional services’ the customer can choose from, are
• Farm/hatchery set-up
• Training - which can be provided under a separate module or a case-by-case basis
• Personalised analysis (using Datamaestro)

8. FindIT marketing, promotion & sales
Pepite has launched a FindIT website with basic information and contact possibilities: see
The project has took a stand at Aquaculture Europe 2014 and other specialised aquaculture tradeshows so as to assess initial interest from the sector in FindIT, providing a visual demo and supported by FindIT users and IT experts. At the FindIT booth, potential interested partners/future customers could have a demonstration of the FindIT platform and received all necessary information on current project operations and future plans. The FindIT tool attracted a lot of interest and was confirmed to be unique in its features compared to existing tools available on the market.
In the second year of the project, the main promotion activities of the FindIT concept were done at 2 conferences: AquaNor in Trondheim, Norway and Inve customers’ seminar in Crete, Greece. On both occasions a demo farm was presented based on a real dataset and all the features of the tool, including analytics, were shown to a large audience representing both industries. These demonstrations generated a lot of interest and resulted in follow up meetings with potential new users/partners.
Project partners have also made individual presentations to potential users and clients, resulting in assurance of FindIT awareness in both the Mediterranean and Northern marine fish farming sectors.
Nonetheless, it appears that convincing new clients to adopt FindIT will come from:
• Demonstrative analytics of KPIs that are appreciated by the Client
• Ease and simplicity of use of interfaces
• Adaptation to existing farm management software
• Adequate training
• Support Services and helpline
• Commitment to further software development
The base of these services should be provided by a company that will engage skilled personnel to support these needs. Nonetheless, it is understood that regional sales and support will be an advantage, since on-site visits will be needed.
• It is felt that the Mediterranean region would be best served by the consortium partner INVE whose sales team is in contact will all of the regional hatcheries and is familiar and experienced in this business sector
• For the Northern region, it is believed that a dedicated FindIT employee – working alongside Norwegian consortium partners – would be required.
Partnerships with additional key market players can accelerate market penetration, while a further option is the opportunity to establish technical partnerships and sales agreements with existing farm management software providers.
The consortium was aware from the beginning of the project that validation of FindIT analytics and machine-generated proposals would be required and consortium senior scientists have been trained during the project to be able to use and understand the FindIT system. Their engagement in future FindIT use is anticipated.

9. Proceeding to market
9.1 Intellectual Property Issues
Given the complexity of data management and individual/corporate rights on propriety, specialist advice has been sought (sub-contracted) for analysis and response to the issues identified for data supply/holding and analysis. This has highlighted data ownership rights and licensing needs for access to data used for comparative benchmarking. Such conditions will need to be agreed by each used of FindIT.
A proposed license agreement has been prepared which will be needed when new external (to the Consortium) partners will be involved to provide more data into the tool and is a prerequisite for further commercialisation. The IPR issues are also taken up in the consortium agreement of the project.
9.2 Training
Training is a key activity for this project since it raises awareness among end-users and provides the necessary skills to use, manipulate, organise and analyse historical and current data. Pepite was in constant collaboration with the consortium partners to help them, through one-to-one sessions or through group sessions. This helped to increase the experience of everyone in the use of the tool, but also, in the understanding of the process the tool is addressing. PEPITe organised specific workshop sessions for the training of consortium partners/experts to the mastering of FindIT and DATAmaestro tools. These training sessions were held in the PEPITe offices in Belgium and used the partners’ data to allow focus on the data mining techniques and their relevance to hatchery/farm operations.
An online training manual has been developed in cooperation with the partner farms that covers all steps needed to set up the farm, to define the measured parameters, how to operate the tool, etc… clearly visualised with screenshots and detailed explanations.
9.3 The Business Plan
In conclusion, today, the FindIT tool is a functional prototype, a platform that provides a unique way to manage, in a centralised and standardised manner, hatchery/farm data, compute KPI’s, compare performance and diagnose drifts in these KPI’s giving the following capacities:
• set up of individual farms/hatcheries for monitoring and data encoding
• importing data from existing farm management software (AquaFarmer)
• key performance indicator calculation and reporting
• analytics to detect important factors influencing these KPI’s
• process decision analysis/forecasting
It is currently used in an operational environment by end users involved in the project.
FindIT users’ feedback has led to an initial market strategy including several options as how to market FindIT efficiently.
In the short term, the salmon sector in the North appears probably to be the fastest to adopt the FindIT product and services; most farms are already using farm management software. FindIT has developed a prototype interface with the Aquafarmer products allowing automatic encoding of existing data collection schemes. This facility could provide instant access to existing Aquafarmer customers.
The Mediterranean hatchery and grow out sector is the other main market targeted. However, a key point is that FindIT needs to be fully ready for use – with appropriate support services before adoption by potential clients.
All the aspects of FindIT development and operation have been integrated into the initial business plan, with the exception of freshwater aquaculture and case-by-case studies (e.g. pharma and feed interests).

10. Business Plan
The business plan has examined:
1. Competitive advantage
2. Target markets (from Market Strategy)
3. Preliminary corporate organisation, assuming a start-up company
4. Operational strategy, including
a. Competition analysis
b. SWOT analysis
c. PESTEL analysis
5. Marketing mix, including pricing and placement
6. Supply chain management
7. Financial analysis for optimistic, realistic and pessimistic sales forecasts
The forecast indicates that a FindIT business will have little capital investment, low fixed costs but high variable costs, linked to marketing and support services (external experts & training) that will rise with customers.
The conclusions indicate that by reaching 3% (pessimistic) to 6% (optimistic) of potential customers in the European market, corporate profitability is reached in both cases, but the rapidity of reaching this stage is quite variable (2.5 years vs 15 months respectively). It is estimated that the average cost/sale equals +/- €350 while the sales return averages €1304/year.
Break-even sales analysis indicates that FindIT would need a minimum of 50 licenses, providing steady income and spot service revenue.
Financing requirements are not excessive, being estimated (in the business plan scenario) as €175,000
Consequently, the conclusion is that FindIT can be provided as a profitable service venture, based on a light and flexible structure, following additional product development and service supply.
The optimal product/service mix that FindIT should and can supply commercially still remains to be identified and agreed, accompanied by the best strategy to create a positive business value for FindIT. This will be evaluated following the end of the project.
The consortium partners are all aware of this position and agree that further developments of the software (as described above) is needed before the launch and creation of a new company. It is understood that the product cannot be launched if it is not ready and that failure would ensue if the services envisaged are not in place.
The consortium agrees that a separate start-up company will be required to achieve this and the consortium is committed to assessing the possibilities and options following completion of the project.

Potential Impact:
The principles of FindIT, as a system, are to improve the competitiveness of both European fish hatcheries and ongrowing farms through effective monitoring, historical benchmarking and early detection of performance drift; this will allow significant improvements to technical and financial management for professional activities, on farm and at distance.
As a function of improved data availability and multivariate analysis, the identification of causal factors that affect negatively or positively the Key Performance Indicators (identified and agreed for each sector/company) will allow corrective actions to be recommended and taken, leading to improvements in productivity and competitiveness of both individual companies and the sector as a whole.
Based on similar activities in other sectors (provided by the consortium partner Pepite), improvement levels of 4-6% are achievable targets, which would have positive benefits to both production performance and economics, increasing sectoral and corporate competitiveness. Historically, data mining analysis has led to productivity improvements in manufacturing industries have provided 5-10% improvements in productivity. Additional effects include, as an example, energy savings of more than €0.5 million/year within a major industrial manufacturer. A 4% improvement in productivity performance throughout the entire European aquaculture sector would be worth some €280 million/year. A 4% improvement in hatchery performance would be worth an estimated €64 million/year.
While FindIT will improve the operations of European fish hatcheries directly, the knock-on (economic) effect to the ongrowing sector will be even higher but largely dependent on the quality improvements obtained for juvenile fish through the use of FindIT.
New stock tracking services incorporated into FindIT (following individual batch progress) provide improved traceability of such livestock, providing a complement to certification requirements as well as individual batch performance (e.g. strains from selective breeding programmes).
The analytical service profile has also been shown to be attractive to feed suppliers and vaccine companies, whose interest is primarily on the performance of their proprietary products in the hatchery or on farm; follow-up using FindIT is able to provide a unique benchmarking service for these supply sectors.
The scientific community will also benefit from the platform. Via the cohesive input of their data and information, the FindIT tool will provide comparative data from controlled experimentation. Pooling of valuable data and information that would otherwise be stored in isolation is possible and a new centralised exchange system of data between scientists can be foreseen. It is anticipated that the use of FindIT will promote the establishment of new knowledge and understanding of the biological processes, specifically at the larval and juvenile stages of marine fish production. This is exceptionally important for the maintenance and promotion of excellence within the European academic and research communities. FindIT will give access to analytical tools that are not used at present in biological research and will thus give access to new scientific knowledge. This anticipated service, which could be provided free of charge, will also provide an up-front marketing tool for FindIT, facilitating professional adoption.
To achieve these impacts, FindIT will have to be provided as a commercial service, through a new company, whose main objective will be to provide a comprehensive, easy to use/understand product that is complemented by professional services for training and support. Alongside this, future developments are foreseen so as to broaden the scope of the product and provide continuous updates that respond to client demand. This will provide new activities for all in the consortium who become involved in the start-up company foreseen.
In estimating the more immediate returns on FindIT’s development and adoption, these are seen as being multiple:
1. For the European fish hatchery and farming sectors, access to a unique tool for measuring own performance on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will provide improved monitoring and the perspective of integrated problem analysis and recommendations. The immediate benefit would be better production levels of higher quality that would be reflected positively in both practical operations and economic performance.
a. The SME consortium participants will be the first direct beneficiaries of this aspect.
2. Pepite will be assured of higher visibility within the applications of its analytical products in the livestock sector.
a. The consortium provides access to a wide promotion/dissemination network for FindIT, through
i. FEAP – access to European National Associations and hence fish farmers
ii. INVE – extensive sales network (of nutritional products) with Mediterranean hatcheries and a top-level hatchery research station
iii. Leading farm companies (Selonda/Leroy) for demonstration purposes
iv. Leading research organisations in Northern Europe (Nofima) and the Mediterranean (University of Crete)
3. The anticipated improvements in technical and competitive performance will provide larvae, juvenile and adult fish of higher quality – positions that will consolidate the position of aquaculture within society, where the consumer demands higher quality with value for money. Improved sectoral product quality is thus extremely important for the view that society has of fish farming and aquaculture. This approach is foreseen within the review of aquaculture in the reform of the CFP, where products of the highest quality are targeted.
4. Improved product quality is also essential for the processing and retail sectors that purchase aquaculture products, a position that will consolidate the European supply chain and render the market for aquaculture products less volatile.
By bringing FindIT to market in professional aquaculture hatchery and production companies, it will also create new job opportunities and job descriptions, specifically for data management and analysis. This will raise skills on-site and in-house. As ‘precision farming’ principles are being adopted by land arable and livestock farming, so FindIT will bring this approach to aquaculture. The impact of this approach cannot be underestimated since it will change the manner in which production processes are viewed, understood and managed.

Dissemination activities
The dissemination activities for FindIT were numerous (see table A.2).
The FindIT platform was demonstrated at the major aquaculture events during 2014 and 2015. A first demonstration of the tool was done at the ‘Aquaculture Europe 2014’ conference/exhibition in San Sébastian, Spain. At the FindIT booth, potential interested partners/future customers could have a demonstration of the FindIT platform and receive all necessary information on current project operations and future plans. As promotional material, 3 large posters were designed especially for the booth while information flyers were printed for distribution, complete with a new logo.
The other main aquaculture exhibition FindIT was presented was AquaNor (2015) in Trondheim, Norway where Nofima personnel showed the salmon demonstration farm, including analytic features.
In the FEAP Annual reports of 2014 and 2015, the FindIT platform was presented in an article on research activities FEAP is involved in. Also on the FEAP website, the FindIT project is described with a link to the project website. Reporting on FindIT was also done in the FEAP quarterly newsletter and during the annual General and Presidents’ meetings of FEAP.
Pepite launched the FindIT website, for introduction to and explanations of FindIT in 2015
In Norway, the FindIT platform was promoted on several local industry meetings as well as via web-site articles on hatchery international,
In the Mediterranean, the FindIT platform was demonstrated to an audience of approximately 100 hatchery professionals at the occasion of an INVE customers’ seminar held in Crete, Greece (October 2015).

Exploitation of results
Within the project timeframe of 2 years, extreme care was taken for effective 2-way dialogue between consortium ‘producers’ and the FindIT programmers/designers so as to have the best mutual understanding. This experience developed within the consortium will certainly contribute to optimal exploitation of the results.
The results of the FindIT project are defined on 2 levels;
1. the results of the analytic and diagnostic services to clients using the FindIT platform
2. the exploitation of FindIT through a start-up company that will provide FindIT as a service

The full details of the analyses achieved within the partner companies are not available for public dissemination, since they relate to confidential production information of the individual companies, which are protected under the Mutual Non-Disclosure Agreement of the Consortium.
Nonetheless, the professional hatcheries/producers of the consortium have all contributed to FindIT development and have provided production performance data to the system.
Not only has FindIT proved to be successful in providing new support to on-farm stock management (e.g. following batch movements to provide improved traceability), it has also given proof-of-concept using its advanced analytics for multi-variate analysis, machine learning and decision trees. These developments were confirmed in the final project consortium meeting.

Concerns were raised early in the project as to how (potential) FindIT users would be trained so as to use the platform to its best potential. An early decision was to “train the trainers”. This policy was followed throughout the project since the consortium believes that expert FindIT users are better for system and analytical training in the future, as opposed to software designers/encoders. The representatives of the salmon sector were able to undergo training more quickly than the Mediterranean representatives, principally due to higher levels of data compatibility from existing management software. In addition, the Mediterranean hatcheries face more complex inputs (principally due to the use of live feeds (rotifers/algae/artemia) which were more complicated to account for within the FindIT monitoring system. Nonetheless, both on-site and distance (through Skype/videoconference) training was achieved for all partners, accompanied by a training manual (developed jointly through the project timeline).
Consequently, it is envisaged that expert ‘users’ within the consortium are best placed to assist future training of FindIT clients. Within the consortium partnership, there are 4 expert (producer) users in FindIT and 3 expert (scientist) validators, who are anticipated to contribute to further exploitation of FindIT in training/support activities.

The high levels of interest in the use and application of FindIT have shown a clear need for and advantaged position of the product within European aquaculture. ‘Proof of concept’ has been established and there is clear and strong interest from several important companies to use FindIT. Communication and meetings with these companies started during the project and will continue after it finishes.

While one can consider that the ‘salmon’ component is close to completion, it is recognised that further development is needed to bring the ‘seabass/seabream’ part to the stage where is could be considered a commercially-ready product. The consortium agreed in its final meeting that a business plan, perhaps based only on ‘salmon’ users’ needs to be prepared so as to decide on the best course to follow, since it is agreed that launching a product that is not fully ready should be avoided. This plan is to be developed by April 2016, so as to allow decision by the consortium partners.

Financing further software development and testing also as to be addressed by the consortium.
It has been agreed to investigate the creation of a start-up company that will hold the foreground developed in the project and be responsible for:
1. Hosting and operation of FindIT
2. Marketing and promotion of FindIT (using staff and consortium partners)
3. Training and support services (using staff and consortium experts)
4. Further development of FindIT (using staff and Pepite)
Following completion of the business plan, consortium partners will respond as to their firm interest in participating in the start-up company. While specific partners have already indicated positive positions, each will have to proceed with internal consultation prior to decision.

List of Websites:

Project coordinator: FEAP,
Technical coordinator: PEPITE,