GEDI Exchange

Member profile: Blue Lion Labs

Utilizing AI for rapid analysis of organisms in water

Water with diagram on side of Blue Lion Labs processing

During his Ph.D. program in systems design engineering at the University of Waterloo, Jason Deglint, co-founder and chief executive officer of Blue Lion Labs, wanted to develop a product to improve the quality of drinking water.

With support from his advisors, professors Chao Jin and Alexander Wong, Jason built a low-cost digital microscope that used machine learning to automatically identify algae in lab samples.

With this technology, Jason would enter the Montreal-based  AquaHacking competition, which Deglint says was “instrumental in essentially getting Blue Lion Labs incorporated, as we ended up winning first place.” 

Jason would start focusing on using the technology he was developing in the drinking water industry. This would lead to the development Blue Lion Labs, a software and data analytics technology company. Its purpose is to take images of organisms in water and automatically locate, identify, and count them, by applying machine learning and computer vision technologies. Adding artificial intelligence (AI) to the software lets it do rapid analysis of these organisms. 

However, as an engineer, Jason felt navigating biology was challenging. “I essentially started realizing that if I was going to build this as a business, I needed people who had skills complementary to mine,” explains Deglint. 

Jason reached out to and eventually met Katie Thomas, who has a Ph.D. in aquatic ecology. After their initial meeting and hitting it off from the start, Jason contracted work to Katie to assist in research projects. This would help develop their partnership and allow Katie to understand the vision behind Blue Lion Labs. 

“Katie was essentially the person I needed to figure out how to commercialize the technology in this domain,” says Deglint.  

After Katie joined the team as a co-founder and chief operating officer, Blue Lion Labs joined Hatch, an accelerator focused on aquaculture and alternative seafood innovation. 

 “We started hearing about aquaculture and fish farms. How algae blooms were costing hundreds of millions, sometimes billions of dollars, in many countries,” says Deglint. 

Hatch led Blue Lion Labs to connect with the world-class marine technology group OTAQ. Blue Lion Labs and OTAQ have now entered into a strategic partnership to build a phytoplankton monitoring system for aquaculture.

“As a hardware company with global distribution capabilities they complemented our skill set of machine learning and microbiology.” explains Deglint. 

Now a member of the GEDI Exchange, Blue Lion Labs hopes to connect with other entrepreneurs to see if potential collaborations arise. “I believe a network is one of the most valuable things to have,” says Deglint. “GEDI has a unique angle with research.” 

“I like figuring out how to solve big problems,” explains Deglint. “I want to meet smart innovative people who want to make the world a better place and give back. I want to see what they are working on.” 

Blue Lion Labs was featured in the GEDIx: A 30-minute Exchange webinar with the Water Institute on June 15, 2021. A replay of the webinar is linked here. 

Blue Lion Labs