Oceanium Raises $2.7M to fund seaweed-based sustainable initiatives24 May 2021
UK-based Oceanium closed a second seed funding round for £2 million ($2.7M USD). The round was led by Green Angel Syndicate with participation from the World Wildlife Fund. Funding will be used to scale the company's proprietary bio-refinery and processing model in order to “open up the market” and further develop the sustainable seaweed farming industry.
“By developing products which are in very high demand including plant-based food ingredients and home compostable bio-packaging material, we will drive demand for farmed seaweed in U.K., Europe and North America,” Co-founder and CTO of Oceanium Dr. Charlie Bavington said in a statement.
Using biorefinery technology, the company is working to extract high purity bioactives from sustainably farmed seaweed in order to create plant-based food ingredients. In addition to farming seaweed for use in edible applications, Oceanium intends to use seaweed to manufacture compostable bio-packaging materials that are marine-safe. According to the company, using seaweed as both an ingredient as well as a base component in packaging, will “mitigate climate change, ensure food security and create jobs across the value chain.”
Seaweed is a marine plant that has come into vogue in the plant-based arena due to the ease with which it can be cultivated as well as its flexibility in a myriad of plant-based applications. Products that have begun to introduce seaweed onto their list of ingredients include kelp jerky, pasta, and snacks. But not only can this marine plant be used in a wide variety of ways, but it also introduces a health halo to the products in which it is used – a combination that has caused this ingredient to pique the interest of both consumers and manufacturers worldwide.
This alga is also remarkable for its sustainability claims. If cultivated at scale, seaweed has the ability to contribute to 10% of the world’s food supply while using only 0.03% of the ocean’s surface, according to the Safe Seaweed Coalition. Compounded with the estimation that farming seaweed at this scale can capture 136M tons of CO2 annually by 2030 as well as 30% of the nitrogen generated by pollution, and it is no surprise that investors are interested in underwriting a technology that focuses on cultivating this plant.
As a result of its wide appeal for consumers seeking healthier alternatives as well as those looking to eat more sustainably, the global seaweed market is set to grow at 8.9% annually between 2018 and 2024, according to a report from Grand View Research.
Beyond edible solutions, seaweed is unique in that it has the potential for use in developing sustainable packaging. Already there have been strides in this area. Evoware, a startup based out of Indonesia, introduced a wrapper made from seaweed that was dissolvable and flavorless. Loliware created straws from seaweed intended to replace traditional plastic options. Now, Oceanium is working to bring compostable packaging to at-home consumers with its bio-refined seaweed.
Previously, Oceanium received funding from venture capital firms Katapult Ocean and Sky Ocean Ventures in addition to the government agency Scottish Enterprise.
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