The idea – accelerating algae production to support a sustainable bioeconomy
Algae production is a rapidly emerging sector of the biotech industry, worth more than $4bn. In addition to being produced for food, food supplements and animal feed, algae also have a role to play in carbon capture, waste management, and in the creation of high value chemical compounds.
One of the major challenges faced by the algae industry is the optimisation of growth conditions or parameters for algae production at scale as it requires a lot of energy and nutrients are often wasted. To address this challenge, the Algacraft team decided to develop a novel, automated, small scale, high precision bioreactor that can accurately measure and rapidly find the optimal cultivation conditions for industrially relevant algal strains. Combining the capabilities of this novel bioreactor with their skills and know-how the Algacraft team is working to provide an algae growth optimization service, where they rapidly measure and calculate the optimal way to grow algae for its customers. They believe this approach will enable the algae industry to tackle climate change and develop much needed new solutions to feed the world.
Who is behind the idea?
Alfgacraft was founded by five experts in high-tech innovation, microbiology and engineering, with extensive experience within the biotech industry. EIT Food's Seedbed Incubator programme was attended by Mate Ravasz, CEO and Matjaz Vidmar, CFO.
How Seedbed Incubator supported Algacraft
During the Seedbed Incubator programme, the Algacraft team learned a lot about marketing and how to engage with potential customers and importantly how to also keep the customers that they already had.
Originally the Algacraft team were only focused on engaging with a certain group of customers, but after the Seedbed programme and the support and contacts they were given, they were able to reach out to many other new organisations and new areas as well. This has resulted in the Algacraft team signing a partnership with a company that is based in Africa, something they would never have previously considered. In addition, they then discovered that food innovation is very important on the African continent and that it’s supported with a lot of inward investment therefore creating further interesting opportunities for Algacraft.
One take home message from the bootcamp session and later on in the Incubator is that talking to people is incredibly important and should not be underestimated. The team learned a lot simply by going out and showing their business offering to customers who might potentially buy it in the future.
This process revealed that they may have to redefine and adjust the company’s offerings to actually fulfil client needs.
The team also appreciated the legal support they received around what criteria are required in drafting contracts with potential customers and how best to support their innovations with IP.
“One of the main things that we benefited from in the Seedbed Incubator is the list of companies and organisations that we've talked to and we've made contact with. Now we have partners across the globe, whereas previously we only had their contacts details. This is a huge boost for a startup company and in addition we find that these contacts add to our growing network of companies that we can further engage with.” Mate Ravasz, CEO
“I think the Seedbed Incubator, first and foremost is an amazing community of people, support staff and amazing trainers both at Queen’s University Belfast as well as in other associated agencies and groups. This also includes the community of companies and entrepreneurs who all shared the common vision of improving the future of food security, as well as improved biotechnological solutions across the Agri-Tech Industry.” Mate Ravasz, CEO
Learn more about Algacraft:
- Visit their website: www.algacraft.com
- Follow Algacraft on LinkedIn: @algacraft
- Follow them on Twitter: @algacraft
Learn more about EIT Food's Seedbed Incubator here