The idea of developing a land-based fish farm at Indre Harøy on the west Norwegian coast came to Per Olav Mevold and Kristofer Reiten one day in the late autumn of 2016.
The motivation for our founders has always been to establish something in their own part of Norway. This venture is set to create many new jobs directly, but its spin-offs will perhaps be even more important.
During 2017, the first site investigations were conducted in collaboration with Åkerblå, a feasibility study was carried out in cooperation with Artec Aqua, and a letter of intent was secured from the local authority to purchase the land on Indre Harøy.
As early as 2015, the Norwegian government had indicated that it should be possible to award free licences for onshore fish farms. We submitted our application to farm salmon on land at Indre Harøy in August 2017.
In July 2018, Møre og Romsdal county council awarded us a licence for the Indre Harøy facility. This permits a maximum standing biomass of 13 300 tonnes of salmon and an annual output of 36 000 tonnes. That corresponds to more than 100 million salmon portions per year.
We raised NOK 50 million through a private placement in January 2019. This capital meant the phase up to the next share issue had been fully funded, and it could be used in part to design the first construction stage, develop the organisation and recruit key personnel.
On 27 March 2019, we exercised our right to buy the Indre Harøy site. This land, partly occupied by a rock-crushing plant and otherwise undeveloped, was designated for industrial use and belonged at the time to Fræna local authority.
Our application for a licence to install our own smolt facility received a green light on 19 November 2019 from Møre og Romsdal county council. This ensured that we would have a supply of smolts all year round. The licence permits the production of 7.5 million smolts per annum.
In March 2020, we raised a further NOK 258 million through another private placement where new and existing industrial owners made a continued commitment to our industrial project for fish farming on land.
While the existing shareholders put up a further NOK 107 million, Ronja Capital became the largest of the new investors. Tore A Tønseth, Ronja Capital’s investment vice president, was elected as our new chair.
Construction of the facility at Indre Harøy in Hustadvika local authority kicked off on 19 May 2020. This marked the start to the first of three phases for one of Europe’s largest fish farms on land. The first phase is designed to provide an annual roundweight capacity of 9 000 tonnes of fish, while the completed farm will be able to produce 36 000 annual tonnes.
Håkon André Berg took over as our CEO in late June. He had been recruited as CFO in November 2019, and was acting CEO from March 2020.
We entered into an investment agreement in July 2020 with South Korea’s Dongwon Industries, one of the world’s leading seafood companies. Dongwon would invest NOK 50 million for a minority shareholding in our company.
The two of us plan to establish a partnership aimed at building a fish farm on land in South Korea, utilising the technology developed for our Norwegian facility by Artec Aqua. We will also jointly assess future opportunities for scaling similar projects in other Asian markets as well as in North America.
A reorganisation was implemented in July and August 2020, whereby Salmon Evolution AS became part of a group structure as a wholly owned subsidiary of Salmon Evolution Holding AS.
Our private placement attracted very strong interest from high-quality Norwegian, Nordic and international institutional investors. Excluding shares pre-allocated to cornerstone investors, the issue was more than nine times oversubscribed.
Following a successful share issue, where Salmon Evolution Holding AS raised NOK 500 million, our share received a listing on Oslo’s Merkur Market on 18 September 2020. The issue aroused considerable interest among Norwegian, Nordic and international institutional investors.
The funding support from Enova relates to the ongoing construction of our fish farm at Indre Harøy. “With this support, Enova is contributing to our realisation of tomorrow’s solutions for salmon farming,” says CEO Håkon A Berg. “Our strategy of establishing a significant low-emission salmon production on land remains unchanged.”