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UPEI engineering students are #springboarding the oyster industry

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Jordan Sampson, Brett McDermott and Dylan MacIsaac, UPEI engineering students are working to flip over the oyster industry in Atlantic Canada, while opening up a new business opportunity for themselves. The three students designed specialized equipment that gently guides oyster cages in a rollercoaster-like flip.

The business opportunity is huge. Farmed oysters grow over 5 years in cages which can weigh up to 200 pounds each. During the maturation process, the cages need to be turned once or twice a week to discourage mussel, barnacle and algae build-up. Turning the cages improves the appearance and the size of the matured oysters. Currently, this process involves manual labour of up to 10 hours a day (depending on the size of the farm) and requires employees to be strong enough to do that work.

During their second year of their studies, the students were given the task to work with an industrial client to come up with an automated solution to the oyster cage flipping. Fast forward a year later and the student team applied under their own company name Island AquaTech for the provincial government award for students and received a $25,000 Ignition Fund grant for their entrepreneurial spirit.

This entrepreneurial team also sought help from UPEI's Synapse (a Springboard member turning ideas into solutions) to work on their technology and to file for a patent and in the summer Springboard Atlantic came behind their technology by providing Proof of Concept and patent funding from our Innovation Mobilization program. 

We are excited to not only see this project #springboarding forward but also to keep track of this entrepreneurial team and Island AquaTech in the years to come. 

The students anticipate that a full-sized prototype will be used in November and with the money the students received from the Ignition Fund they will build a production model that the industry can use.

To read the full article in The Gazette, click here.