UArizona Startup GenetiRate Acquired by Aquaculture Biotechnology Company

Feb. 8, 2021

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Benjamin Renquist, PhD
Photo credit: Paul Tumarkin/Tech Launch Arizona Benjamin Renquist, PhD

Tucson, Ariz. – University of Arizona startup GenetiRate has been acquired by biotechnology company IMV Technologies.

GenetiRate was founded in 2018 on a technology invented by Benjamin Renquist, associate professor of animal and comparative biomedical sciences at the UArizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a member of the university's BIO5 Institute. Renquist's laboratory developed a new assay that measures the metabolic rate of individual aquatic animals, from fish to mollusks to crustaceans, to identify and sort out those that grow more quickly, making it a useful technology for the aquaculture industry. Kyle Kentch, a research specialist at UArizona, was the lead developer of technology that automated the GenetiRate process.

"IMV's acquisition of GenetiRate is great news for the technology's future, and a testament to the impactful research being undertaken at the University of Arizona," said Doug Hockstad, assistant vice president of Tech Launch Arizona. "This is a great achievement for Dr. Renquist, and we look forward to working with him more in the future."

"One of our strategic intents is to be an economic driver in the state of Arizona," said Shane Burgess, vice president of the UArizona Division of Agriculture, Life and Veterinary Sciences, and Cooperative Extension and dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. "Dr. Renquist's work exemplifies the innovation in our School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences, creating jobs and helping us fulfill our land-grant university raison d'être."

In spring 2019, GenetiRate received the North Atlantic Seafood Forum's Seafood Innovation Award for improving sustainability and production and joined the aquaculture focused accelerator Hatch Blue.

"We are happy to have identified, invested in and sold a company in just under two years with a technology that will make the sector an order of magnitude more efficient. It's great to see how our model of investing in sustainable aquaculture innovation and providing in-depth market know-how and network creates value to industry and investors alike," said Carsten Krome, managing partner at Hatch.Blue.

GenetiRate was further financially supported through awards provided by the startup and bioscience communities in Arizona. The startup was recognized at StartUp Tucson's 2019 IdeaFunding event with a 2020-2021 Flinn Foundation Bioscience Entrepreneur Fellowship. GenetiRate also was a 2020 finalist for the Governor's Celebration of Innovation in the startup category. 

"With similar customer bases and products and a shared focus on technology development, joining the IMV family was a natural fit," Renquist said. "IMV will provide the foundation for us to rapidly expand the application of GenetiRate's technologies to enhance production across the aquaculture industry. We look forward to developing technology to automate our selection process in most species."

IMV Technologies is the world leader in animal assisted reproduction biotechnologies. Founded in 1963, IMV Technologies, a French company, has subsidiaries and/or manufacturing facilities in Brazil, China, France, India, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Scotland, South Africa and the United States. 

"We are excited to welcome GenetiRate and its team to the IMV Technologies family," said Eric Schmitt, director of innovation, science, and technology at IMV Technologies said. "Dr. Renquist and his lab have developed important technology that we believe should be taken to the market for the benefit of the salmon and trout industries and beyond."

Paul Tumarkin, Assistant Director, Marketing & Communications