The ocean is currently the source of only up to 2% of human food, although it covers more than 70% of the Earth’s surface. The recent communication “Towards a Strong and Sustainable EU Algae Sector” identifies farmed seafood as an important source of alternative protein for food and feed with a low-carbon footprint. The industrial cultivation of algae for human consumption has increased manifold over the past few decades. However, although popular in Asia, the uptake of algae production and consumption remains slow in the EU. Algaria is a young Italian start-up ready to tap into this huge potential, producing and distributing spirulina-based bioproducts, with the help of the EU Blueinvest programme.
EU support for innovative companies in the algae sector
Across Europe, several companies are developing disruptive solutions and technologies supporting the growth and sustainability of the algae sector but often they struggle to attract investors and gain access to finance.
Founded in 2016, Algaria SRL was among the first batch of companies benefiting from the BlueInvest Readiness Assistance programme. With this programme, the European Commission directly supports innovative companies in the algae sector and boosts investment in the industry’s cutting-edge technologies. The objective is to develop a more sustainable food system and to enable a transition to a circular European bioeconomy.
Producing spirulina algea in a circular way
The young Italian start-up produces and distributes highly nutritional alternative food and ingredients (spirulina algae), through its brand Spireat, without affecting the ecosystem. Since spirulina alga production has a high thermal need, Algaria uses an innovative circular system whereby the thermal energy of the biogas generated by the plants are used to heat a greenhouse all year round. All inputs and outputs are recuperated, and no raw materials are used. Water is also recuperated in the production process, resulting in a net zero impact. Moreover, Algaria has also developed a patent-pending breakthrough technology called e-pond that is capable of recovering by-products from the food industry, extracting the mineral residues and using them as as feedstock to support the growth of microalgae.
BlueInvest – coaching and connecting companies with investors
Through sessions with their BlueInvest coach, the start-up has improved its market and investment readiness and specifically worked on an entire business plan suitable to attract funding. BlueInvest has been particularly instrumental in helping the start-up to expand its network and identify key partners for R&D collaboration, not only thanks to the support of their coach but also their participation in BlueInvest events.
'The BlueInvest event helped us reach out to some really helpful connections, in order to run up some R&D projects together' says Antonio Ida, CEO, Algaria SRL'The networking experience was excellent'. And it is not over: going forward, Algaria has ambitious fundraising plans and is currently investing strongly in R&D to attain high technology readiness levels (TRLs). The company is in talks with banks and financial institutions for multiple funding options and has recently closed a deal worth €3.3 million with an investor. In CEO Antonio Ida’s words, 'We have quite a lot on our plate for now'.
- Publication date
- 21 December 2022
- Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries