Aqua-Spark backs vertically integrated seaweed innovator

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/RapidEye
© GettyImages/RapidEye

Related tags: seaweed

Sustainable aquaculture fund, Aqua-Spark, has invested in India based Sea6 Energy's US$9M Series B round

Sea6's vertically integrated seaweed production and processing system is an economically viable, first-of-its-kind solution to scale seaweed production in the open ocean - a pivotal development for aquaculture, said the investors.

Aqua-Spark is the lead investor in the round, alongside Singapore-based Silverstrand Capital.

The seaweed industry, according to that fund, is still nascent, but one with untapped potential, and a sector providing a sustainable starting material for products ranging from food and feed, to biofuel and bioplastics. But the traditional production processes are labor-intensive and prevent affordable, large-scale cultivation.

Sea6's proprietary SeaCombine, a fully mechanized cultivation system, is addressing these hurdles by simultaneously harvesting and replanting seaweed, it said.

The Indian company has also developed proprietary methods to stabilize fresh seaweed for longer and process the stored or fresh seaweed directly into a variety of products ranging from food and feed, to biofuel and bioplastics, it noted. 

Aqua-Spark said the funds raised will contribute towards the financing of additional SeaCombine systems to increase supply of seaweed raw material and expanding Sea6’s processing capacity with additional production facilities.

'Sustainably farming the ocean' 

Mike Velings and Amy Novogratz, co-founders of Aqua-Spark, commented:

"Investing in seaweed production has been a priority for us since we launched in 2015. We expect it to play a big part in the future of aquaculture, but, until now, we hadn’t come upon an operation that was both economically viable and was able to produce at scale. Sea6's first-of-its-kind innovation is well-positioned to impact how we farm seaweed and its utilization across industries. It gets us much closer to realizing algae as a commercial scale aqua feed ingredient and as a direct source of protein for all. Its SeaCombine makes sustainably farming the ocean a possibility, while capturing CO2 and transforming it into valuable products.

"The company's approach impressed us from the start, and we're eager to integrate them into our portfolio and begin to work together.” 

Headquartered in Bangalore, with operations out of India and in Indonesia, Sea6 was founded in 2010 at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras; Shrikumar Suryanarayan, MD and co-founder of the Indian firm, said the company is focused on cultivating and processing tropical seaweed species with high growth rates, large scalability and year round availability of biomass.   

Sea6 has also patented biostimulants and biodefense products for agriculture and plant health, a feed additive that is designed to stimulate innate immunity pathways in both aquaculture and poultry applications, as well as a process for an eco-friendly carrageenan, according to the investors. 

To date, Aqua-Spark has invested in 21 complementary companies, technologies, and inputs that are working toward the sustainable aquaculture farming.

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