TOPBALAT has high innovation potential and is beyond the state of the art. The innovation of TOPBALAT lies in the novelty of the resource exploited and the sea cucumber (SC) specificity of the technology, and the way our technology components set up a value chain for the whole business: our approach tackles fishing, processing and distribution, and makes it very easy to other seafood companies to start tapping on this market opportunity. (1) Due to the low value that SC have traditionally had in western cultures (traditionally been fishermen cheap source of proteins), only some few have tried to make profit out of it. Where harvested, it is done by professional or air surface-supplied diving (in-shore), and with conventional heavy unspecific dredges (off-shore). (2) The SC specific processing equipment provide a high-value product out of SC. Processing technology is the key to making the SC business profitable, as the value and quality of the SC is based on a combination of the raw material quality and the processing methods for its market acceptance. The processing of SC is somewhat intensive, requiring great effort in every step, with particularities related to handling and evisceration (flower, or tentacles, are connected to the guts: bad removal leads to discards). Because of this high labour effort, most western exporters perform a light processing (only essential cleaning steps to prevent degradation) and trade them frozen, resulting in low-graded product with less demand. (3) TOPBALAT’s processing impacts very positively on the distribution, as shipping dried SC is much more efficient cost-wise than frozen (95% less weight), with profit up to a 60%. (4) We expect TOPBALAT will allow for the establishment of a new business for European seafood companies worth some € 70 M. Other positive impact of TOPBALAT include the displacement of traditional seabed-damaging fishing dredges for our advanced low-impact SC dredge, and the reduce of by-catches.
AURORA will commercialise both the final product (dried whole fully processed SC) and the technology to harvest and produce it. By 2022, we expect to have sold some 325 tonnes of processed SC, with expected accumulated gross revenues of €25.2 M, a ROI of 2.61 and some 7-10 new jobs. The support of the original equipment manufacturers involved will guarantee regulations compliance, help reduce time-to-market and maximise the impact of TOPBALAT’s technology in the target countries (Norway, Scotland, Ireland).