When managed well, tilapia aquaculture is one of the most efficient sources of animal protein production, and in Brazil, tilapia aquaculture directly contributes to food security, as 99% of farmed fish are consumed domestically. However, disease management on fish farms in the global south is a major challenge, and inadequate management of diseases has resulted in boom-and-bust cycles across aquaculture production systems and species, severely impacting farm profitability and regional economies. One study estimated that annual losses in freshwater fish (mainly tilapia) from infectious diseases in Brazil surpass $84 million USD – representing irreparable economic losses to small scale farmers. FeedVax is developing an oral vaccine to reduce fish loss and replace preventive antibiotics, benefiting both human and planetary health.
Feedvax is an early-stage biotechnology company founded in 2017 in Argentina by Luis Barletta. The company is developing a line of oral vaccines for the aquaculture industry, initially targeting streptococcus in tilapia. Feedvax has demonstrated successful laboratory tests, and their initial product shows an +80% relative survival rate, leading to a provisional patent in the US and a global distribution agreement with a leading veterinary company.
Feedvax has undertaken significant pre-commercial research and product development over the past four years supported by GridX, Hatch, and the Argentinian government. The founder and CEO, Luis Barletta, has 20+ years of entrepreneurial experience.
CI Venture’s has invested $150,000 in bridge-round financing to support the company through the launch of their first commercial vaccine product. This includes commercial trials, laboratory equipment, and working capital to scale up vaccine production capacity. Co-investors include Hatch and Ponderosa Ventures.
Tilapia aquaculture continues to grow rapidly in many regions in which CI works throughout the global south. Our Global Aquaculture Program strives to achieve improvements in social, economic, and environmental practices of aquaculture production in major and emerging geographies, through different production systems, and across species.
Global tilapia production and disease management are topics in close alignment with our programmatic strategies, especially as improved disease management also has the potential to improve resource efficiency in the sector – both from directly reducing fish loss, and indirectly from reducing waste of production inputs, such as feed.
Through this investment in FeedVax, we aim to support the affordable production of sustainable protein for domestic Brazilian consumption, reduced use of preventative antibiotics, accessible disease management for small-scale farmers, and overall improved resource efficiency of the sector.