Aqua-Spark announces investment in seaweed producer
Sustainable aquaculture investment fund Aqua-Spark has announced it is the lead investor in a USD 9 million (EUR 7.6 million) Series B funding round – alongside Singapore-based Siverstrand Capital – for Sea6 Energy, a vertically integrated seaweed producer and processor.
Sea6 – headquartered in India, with a subsidiary in Indonesia – is the developer of SeaCombine, a mechanized system that can “simultaneously harvest and replant seaweed in deep ocean waters,” according to a press release from Aqua-Spark. The company has also developed downstream processing for seaweed, turning it into products for agriculture, animal health, food ingredients, bioplastics, and renewable chemicals.
"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,” Aqua-Spark Co-Founders Mike Velings and Amy Novogratz said. “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 aquafeed ingredient and as a direct source of protein for all.”
Sea6 was founded in 2010 at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. The company created the SeaCombine system in order to increase seaweed production while making the process less labor-dependent. Sea6 Energy Managing Director and Co-Founder Shrikumar Suryanarayan said the company is focused on producing tropical seaweed species that have high growth rates and large scalability.
“The composition of seaweed makes it a good starting material for products ranging from food and feed, to biofuel and bioplastics. Seaweed cultivation is still a young industry. Most of the traditional production process is labor-intensive, and restricted to shallow and calm-water areas so the industry’s major challenge is to cultivate seaweed at a large scale and in an economically viable way,” Suryanarayan said. “The SeaCombine reduces the labor intensity required to harvest and seed the seaweed and can do this directly on the sea. In addition, the SeaCombine allows farming in deeper and rougher waters than otherwise possible by traditional methods.”
Velings and Novogratz said the company’s technology, coupled with its potential, are what led Aqua-Spark to invest.
“Their SeaCombine makes sustainably farming the ocean a possibility, while capturing CO2 and transforming it into valuable products,” Velings and Novogratz said. “The company's approach impressed us from the start, and we're eager to integrate them into our portfolio and begin to work together.”
Image courtesy of Sea6 Energy