AlgaeProBANOS is among the largest EU-funded algae projects and demonstrates a commitment to develop the sector in Europe, said a spokesperson for the coordinating entity, the SUBMARINER Network.
The initiative, which brings together universities and research institutes with start-ups, SMEs, and industry as well as innovation, training, and entrepreneurship experts, representing 10 European countries from across the Baltic and North Sea region and beyond.
Funded by the EU’s Horizon Europe program, AlgaeProBANOS will span four years and, with a budget of over €12m (US$12.8m), of which around €1m is to be contributed by SMEs, it will focus on leveraging the properties of algae to create new, high-value products and services for a variety of applications in food, feed, nutraceuticals, textiles, cosmetics, and plant biostimulants.
The project, involving 26 partners and affiliated entities, will run six pilots across the Baltic and North Sea region, making use of both micro- and macroalgae for its product development work.
The partners said they will develop a framework aimed at ensuring the social, environmental and economic sustainability and circularity of the algae sector, while working directly with consumers to raise awareness and ensure new products meet end-user demands and trends.
Speaking from the project launch event in Berlin, Angela Schultz-Zehden, MD of the SUBMARINER Network, said: "Only a decade ago, the cultivation and use of algae in Europe was very much at the research stage. Today, many large-scale industry players are highly interested in algae as a new bio-resource to improve the environmental footprint of their products. AlgaeProBANOS will make a big contribution to mainstreaming the use of algae in very different industries throughout Europe.”
Unlocking the potential of algae
In November 2022, the EU Commission (EC) adopted the Communication: Towards a strong and sustainable EU algae sector, one that was focused on unlocking the potential of algae in the EU; it proposed multiple actions to help the algae industry in the EU grow into a robust, sustainable, and regenerative sector capable of meeting the growing regional demand.
The publication outlined the need to improve business environments, increase social awareness and acceptance of algae and algae-based products by consumers, and close the knowledge, research, and technology gaps.
"Now is the time to fully harness the potential of algae as a renewable resource in Europe. The need to ensure the security of supply of raw materials and energy has become all the more pressing with the unjustified and unprovoked Russian military aggression against Ukraine, which affects the availability of fertilisers, animal feed ingredients and energy...
"The farming of algae can contribute to achieving the EU’s objectives in terms of decarbonisation, zero pollution, circularity, the preservation and restoration of biodiversity, the protection of ecosystems and the development of environmental services," reads the report.