How to Jumpstart a RAS Project?
Inland Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) projects, like all large-scale projects, should be launched, developed, and executed according to an organized plan and along clearly understood stages. This helps to minimize hurdles and build a solid foundation for your RAS project. Having been involved in the inception and materialization of multiple RAS projects, I am happy to share, from my experience, the first few stages that are essential to jumpstart a successful RAS project:
Step 1: Market Research
First, I recommend every investor and entrepreneur begins their RAS project with solid market research. You must be certain that there is market demand for the end product, and that you can price your product in order to ensure profitability.
Research competing products on the market and determine what unique benefits your product will bring to the market. It’s highly advisable to consider a premium product, with growing market demand, to allow for better economic performance predictions.
Step 2: Selecting a Technology Partner
Once you’ve selected your market and product (type of fish, capacity, geographic market, etc.) I recommend selecting your RAS technology provider, after a careful comparison of options. Selecting your RAS technology provider can influence and also assist in the decisions you’ll be making in the following steps, so it’s vital that you select the best one for your needs (I will address the range of criteria for selecting a RAS technology partner in a separate post).
Step 3: Location, Location, Location
The next step is to choose a site for your RAS project. To properly choose a location, there are many factors that need to be considered (to be elaborated on in a separate post). However, I do want to share at this point that when choosing an area for a RAS facility, it is of great importance to consider the issue of existing infrastructure, such as water, sewage, and electricity, as well as roads, trains, and access to ports and airports.
Step 4: Feasibility Study and Detailed Business Plan
Once the site is selected, you need to conduct a comprehensive feasibility study and business plan to make sure your market research conclusions are solid. You should carefully establish the facts and figures of your project in your business plan, and it is advisable to base your business plan on conservative assumptions of market prices. These steps will allow you to lower the associated risks and build accurate economic plans and predictions that will guide you in your next stage – project funding.
Step 5: Financing and Licenses
Once you’ve formulated your business plan and have a better understanding of your project and its position in the market, you can then move on to consider financing. You need to devote special consideration to this issue, and all methods of funding should be examined and compared, including funding terms of investment banks and discovering available local and international grants.
At the same time, it’s important to research required licenses. Depending on the country in question, there are typically multiple sets of licenses that are necessary to obtain before starting your RAS project, from environmental to construction licenses. It’s advisable to use the services of a local consultant who is familiar with every detail of local legislation and bureaucracy. In developed countries it can take up to three years to obtain all the required licenses. In developing countries, the process is usually faster, and can take mere weeks.
Step 6: Building a Professional Team
The next step is the appointment of a professional team to manage the project until your RAS facility is complete. This team should include experts in technology, finance, as well as a manager with specific knowledge of local bureaucracy. At this point your RAS technology provider should already begin working on the design of your facility.
The Bottom Line
When launching a RAS project, it is extremely important to progress in a careful, measured, and organized manner. Attempting to speed through the steps and make quick hasty decisions, you might pay a price later on in the process. Just like any business, every RAS project must be viable, profitable and based on a comprehensive market research. You need to carefully choose a technology partner as well as a site for your facility. Assessing the range of funding alternatives and licensing procedures is of paramount importance to keep your project on track.
At AquaMaof we have realized this process can be a daunting experience and offer our customers our complete service and support, from initial concept and up to a successfully operating RAS facility.