Plans for aquaponics project in Belgian port of Ostend

Columbi Salmon aims to harvest 12,000 tonnes of salmon and 4,000 tonnes of salad leaves a year by 2025, at a site in the Belgian port of Ostend. Kolbjørn Giskeødegård, CFO of the startup, explains their unique production system, why he thinks the time is right for growing salmon in RAS and what persuaded him to swap finance for farming.

“For many years working for Nordea was the best job in the world – I had a great degree of freedom in my role and it was very exciting. I could probably have worked there until retirement, but had got to the point where I had seen most of the issues – the sector reports and updates started to feel like they were going in a circle,” explains Giskeødegård, who was the Norwegian bank’s chief seafood analyst for 25 years.

However, amidst the increasingly familiar cyclical trends of the conventional salmon farming sector there was one part of the industry which began to catch his attention.

“In the last two of three years, land-based salmon farming was emerging as the most exciting and disruptive part of the sector. I’d talked to many of the players about their plans and roles and licences,” he reflects.

The combination of the entrepreneurial spirit of the RAS pioneers and the development of disruptive new technologies that were needed to enable these systems to produce market-sized salmon appealed to Giskeødegård – and there was one company that stood out.

“It was a group of people I really believed in, including former colleagues – four from finance and four with a deep knowledge of fish farming,” he explains.

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