Seaweed start-up secures fresh funds million to scale and commercialise

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

OCEANIUM’s business model is based on proprietary biorefinery technology which extracts maximum value from sustainably farmed seaweed. Image: OCEANIUM
OCEANIUM’s business model is based on proprietary biorefinery technology which extracts maximum value from sustainably farmed seaweed. Image: OCEANIUM

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Scotland-based OCEANIUM announces a $2.6 (€2.4) million fundraise to scale up its proprietary biorefinery technology to meet market demand for its seaweed ingredients and materials.

Launched in 2018, OCEANIUM’s said its mission is to enable and unlock the emerging sustainable seaweed farming industry in the Western hemisphere by extracting maximum value from seaweed.

It said the latest funding will scale its proprietary biorefinery technology and accelerate the commercialisation of OCEANIUM’s food ingredients, bioactives for health and cosmetics, and innovative materials for luxury packaging and textiles to meet market demand.

OCEANIUM’s business model is based on proprietary biorefinery technology which extracts maximum value from sustainably farmed seaweed: a regenerative, resilient, and nutrient-rich marine plant and the ultimate sustainable biomass for plant-based food, nutraceuticals and materials markets.

Innovative seaweed-based materials can replace resource intensive products, the company claimed. “Seaweed farming is a regenerative form of aquaculture with the potential for numerous environmental, economic, and societal benefits. OCEANIUM's biorefinery model provides a path for a scaled seaweed industry to contribute to food security and supply as a volume buyer of farmed seaweed​.”

One ingredient produced by the firm is a high-fibre seaweed-based one-for-one methylcellulose replacement for plant-based meat which can be used in other products applications including gluten-free breads and beverages. Called OCEAN HEALTH Fiber and described as a sustainable dietary fiber from seaweed, it has received GRAS status in the U.S., regulatory approval in the UK and EU, and is receiving commercial traction from global food companies looking to integrate sustainable ingredients into their products.

Containing 69% dietary fibre, made up of both soluble and insoluble fibres, and a mixture of proteins and minerals, the company further hopes the ingredient may help address the lack of dietary fibre in most modern diets. Seaweed can also support improved nutrition and diets as a source of plant-based protein and nutrients such as zinc, magnesium, and Vitamins A, B12, and K, according to the company.

OCEANIUM said it will use the financing to commercialize its food ingredients and nutraceutical products, continue development of innovative materials, and complete the preparations for the “shovel-ready” installation of a scaled seaweed biorefinery planned under its Series A fundraising.

Farmed seaweed also boasts numerous environmental, social and economic benefits, according to the company. Co-founder and CTO Charlie Bavington recently told FoodNavigator it regards farmed seaweed as “the most sustainable biomass on the planet because of its environmental and societal benefits”​. 

Sustainably farmed seaweed, he told us, provides jobs along rural coastal regions, mitigates eutrophication by absorbing nitrogen and phosphorous, increases biodiversity by protecting nursery grounds and seabeds. Seaweed farms do not need cleared land, fresh water, insecticide or fertilizer.

Announcing the latest fundraise, he added: “We are delighted that our existing investors as well as the new highly renowned impact investors contributed to the success of this financing round. In a short time, we’ve rapidly developed our biorefinery technology from lab bench to TRL 6-8 (system complete and qualified), and some of our ingredients to TRL 7/8. This round helps us to achieve the exciting next step of delivering for our customers.”

James Lindsay, Principal at Builders Vision, the VC that led the funding round, said: “Seaweed can play a valuable role in addressing climate change and creating sustainable food sources, but we need innovators like OCEANIUM to champion seaweed production and highlight its wide range of uses. Builders Vision is committed to investing in tangible solutions that contribute to a more humane and healthy planet, and we’re honoured to continue supporting OCEANIUM as it looks to scale and accelerate the seaweed farming industry through its innovative processing technology and seaweed-based products."

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