Microphyt raises €28.5m in microalgae-based product development

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

©iStock/Toa55
©iStock/Toa55
French microalgae specialists Microphyt take a forward step in its expansion plans with €28.5m raised in its latest funding round that reaffirms investor confidence in the microalgae sector.

Microphyt will use the funds to develop its product portfolio of ten nutritional active ingredients and 20 cosmetic active and functional ingredients that include astaxanthin, the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis​ and long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3).

The firm are already developing products that contribute healthy ageing by helping to ward off metabolic disorders, and enhancing skin health.

“For several years now, Microphyt was actively committed to unlocking the full potential of microalgae amazing diversity through our unique technology platform,” ​said Vincent Usache, CEO of Microphyt.

“With this funding, we will speed up the development and supply of novel natural products that solve the key challenges of Nutrition & Well-being.”

The funding round, co-led by Sofinnova Partners and Bpifrance (SPI Fund), taps into a consumer demand for natural, effective, safe and sustainably produced solutions.

Microalgae meets such consumer expectations due to its natural diversity, offering a richness of bioactive molecules that can be extracted in a close-controlled and sustainable way.

Earlier this month, French biotechnology firm Solbia bought Israeli microalgae company Algatech in a deal to develop new algae-based products for the cosmetics and pharmaceuticals industries. ​

The world market for ingredients for these markets represent more than €62bn with a share of natural ingredients (€5.4bn) that shows a growth of 8% per year.

Micorphyt a good fit

Such is the demand; the European Commission recently released a report​​ offering scientific guidance to help meet the growing global appetite for seaweed species in food, nutrition and pharmaceuticals.

Microphyt is exactly the type of company that Sofinnova Partners is looking for as a pioneering investor in industrial biotechnology,” ​says Denis Lucquin, managing partner of Sofinnova Partners.

“Thanks to its proprietary technology platform the company is in an ideal position to become one of the world leaders in natural ingredients dedicated to nutrition and well-being."​ 

Microphyt has developed a technology based on 5,000-litre tubular photobioreactors, which offer both high differentiation potential (access to a new diversity of species) and the ability to supply natural active ingredients in an industrial and standardized way.

In development since 2009, the technology makes it possible to access this diversity while guaranteeing a high level of control and standardisation.

This technology, operated within an industrial production platform, has already made it possible to establish several commercial partnerships with key players in the sector.

These include a 2017 agreement with Italy’s APG Group to develop, manufacture and market microalgae ingredients.

Investing in the future

Sofinnova Partners and BPI France’s investment in Microphyt forms part of the French Government’s “Programme d'investissements d'avenir”​ (The Investments for the Future Program) together with IXO-Private Equity and Sofilaro.

The program serves as an investment vehicle of the French State, initiated in 2010 providing funds that support French research and innovative projects.

Other participants in the funding round include existing investors, Supernova Invest, Demeter Partners and Irdi Soridec.

“Microphyt's innovations are also based on an innovative industrial project," ​adds Jean Philippe Richard, investment director of the SPI Fund of Bpifrance.

"We share this ambition to develop a leading industrial production site in France and to create a European leader with a global vocation.

“The site will offer multi-product production with high added value while implementing environmentally friendly processes.”

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