- Sustainably farmed seaweed may assist meet rising demand for plant-based meals and environmentally pleasant packaging;
- UK-based start-up Oceanium has developed “inexperienced and clear” know-how that may flip seaweed into each a meals supply and compostable, marine-safe packaging;
- Seaweed farms additionally shield the seabed from business fishing and different dangerous practices and contribute to a low-carbon economic system.
Demand for plant-based meals and diet is rising. According to recent retail sales data, grocery gross sales of plant-based meals rather than animal merchandise grew 29% within the US to $5 billion between 2017 and 2019.
Sustainably farmed seaweed may assist meet this want, whereas additionally offering compostable, marine-safe packaging. UK-based biotech start-up Oceanium has developed progressive, “inexperienced and clear” biorefinery know-how to make each this stuff attainable.
With grant funding from Innovate UK and seed funding from Sky Ocean Ventures and Katapult Ocean (the latter two being ocean impression VCs), is specializing in scaling up their high-tech, progressive biorefinery and product growth to search out out extra concerning the start-up’s historical past, growth and plans for the long run. We spoke to Oceanium’s Karen Scofield to search out out extra concerning the start-up’s historical past, growth and plans for the long run.
How did Oceanium come about?
I met my Co-Founder and our CTO, Dr Charlie Bavington, PhD in Could 2018. My background is in partnership and enterprise growth, brand-building and advertising. I’ve labored with (RED), Comedian Aid and in addition run my very own profitable e-commerce enterprise. After finishing a postgraduate certificates on the College of Cambridge Institute for Sustainable Management, I carried out intensive analysis on what sort of enterprise I may begin that may have probably the most impression and that’s once I found seaweed. Ever since then, I’ve been keen about sharing its environmental and societal advantages.
Charlie is a superb biochemist who has been growing and commercialising marine-based merchandise for the previous 20 years. He was the Founding father of the profitable biotech firm, GlycoMar, and has intensive expertise growing marine-based merchandise for business use. He at the moment has 5 patents to his identify and is about to file two extra for Oceanium bio-packaging. I shared my imaginative and prescient of creating packaging from seaweed with Charlie, who confirmed that this was attainable however that there was additionally a possibility to capitalize on all of the meals and dietary substances in seaweed too. Charlie and I co-founded Oceanium in June 2018, and have been transferring ahead swiftly ever since.
How is Oceanium contributing to the low-carbon economic system?
Oceanium’s impression mission is to allow the rising sustainable seaweed farming business by creating demand for farmed seaweed. Sustainable seaweed farming helps to mitigate local weather change through carbon and nitrogen absorption. In keeping with the World Financial institution, seaweed can soak up 47kg of carbon per moist tonne which equates to roughly one tonne of carbon per hectare yearly.
After all, a few of that carbon will return into the system. So we’re conducting life-cycle evaluation on our course of and merchandise so we might enhance efficiencies but in addition to measure and report our impression as we develop and go to market. We’re liaising with organizations like Seaweed for Europe and the UN World Compact Seaweed Manifesto to assist quantify this carbon absorption and to make sure this thrilling new business grows in a sustainable and managed style.
Seaweed farms shield the seabed from business fishing and different dangerous practices and create a marine sanctuary for sea life. Seaweed farming additionally has different immensely optimistic environmental impacts, because it doesn’t require cleared land, freshwater, insecticide or fertilizer. Our seaweed-based supplies can change resource-intensive meals and feedstocks which regularly contribute to deforestation. As well as, seaweed farms encourage accountable coastal administration and create marine protected areas for sealife.
What concerning the financial and societal impression of your online business?
Seaweed as a meals supply will assist guarantee meals safety. It’s extremely nutritious and stuffed with nutritional vitamins, minerals and protein-essential micronutrients, notably antioxidants.
The world will require 50–70% more food by 2050 and with increasing drought conditions and decreasing soil quality, seaweed supplies a sustainable answer to this problem.
Seaweed may help shut the “protein hole” within the extra speedy time period: Europe currently imports 70% of its protein however Oceanium plans to course of and promote its outputs on a regional foundation to scale back transport miles of our merchandise. We purpose to contribute in direction of financial growth and job creation in coastal communities by supporting small-scale farmers when buying seaweed, selling greatest apply farming methods and serving to allow the nascent sustainable seaweed farming business within the UK, EU and within the growing world.
What has been the impression of COVID-19 on Oceanium?
Oceanium has continued to maneuver ahead regardless of the pandemic. At a start-up there’s at all times a lot to do and we’ve been engaged on growing relationships throughout the worth chain, researching and analysing new alternatives, and conducting analysis. Apparently, our nutraceutical product, Fucoidan, has confirmed to be an efficient COVID-19 antiviral in vitro and we’re watching this analysis carefully.
What’s subsequent on the horizon?
Oceanium continues to progress with analysis and growth for our meals substances (protein and fibre), nutraceuticals (Fucoidan, Beta glucan) and round life-cycle bio packaging supplies (movie and board).
We have now additionally begun work on two new Innovate UK grants. The primary is concentrated on additional growth of the bio-packaging supplies; the second appears at maximizing efficiencies throughout all features of the manufacturing course of, from the seaweed farm to remaining product growth.
We’re scaling our progressive biorefinery course of – we processed roughly 8 tonnes of moist seaweed in December and have plans for 45 tonnes in 2021.
In the meantime, we’re persevering with to construct relationships with seaweed farmers within the UK, EU and North America. We’re additionally fundraising for additional R&D, patent functions and present process regulatory processes as we put together to launch merchandise in 2021. We’re nicely on our approach to “Kelp the World”!
What assets or help do it’s good to obtain your ambitions that you just at the moment don’t have? Is there any help that the Uplink neighborhood may provide?
Positively. Our nutraceutical merchandise will go to market subsequent 12 months and we’re on the lookout for business or enterprise growth consultants within the diet and cosmetics house. Importantly, we’re additionally fundraising so at all times eager to attach with funders and traders!