Scottish start-up secures investment to accelerate microalgae production

By Nicola Gordon-Seymour

- Last updated on GMT

MiAlgae is producing omega-3s from algae nourished using low value nutrient-rich co-products from the whisky distillation process.    Image © abzee / Getty Images
MiAlgae is producing omega-3s from algae nourished using low value nutrient-rich co-products from the whisky distillation process. Image © abzee / Getty Images

Related tags: omega-3, Algae, Upcycling

Scottish biotech, MiAlgae has raised £2.3m in its latest investment drive to support completion of a commercial demonstrator facility for Omega-3 rich microalgae production.

According to founder and managing director, Douglas Martin, the funds will kickstart the company’s next growth phase and enable MiAlgae to quickly scale-up both locally and abroad. The site near Stirling is due for completion in early 2023.

He added that the facility will “help improve food security globally”​ with plans already in place to commercialise other high-value compounds and pigments.

Our research department continues to drive the development of exciting, commercially viable biotech innovations,” ​said Martin.

The biotech has also earmarked extra resources to expand the team with around 10 new appointments, including a head of engineering and commercial director.

Impact on humanity

Managed by venture capital group, Ascension, the funding round secured a significant £900,000 from the Conduit Impact Fund (investor platform).

Investment Manager, Hadley Diest said: “MiAlgae’s circular economy approach to producing algae rich in Omega-3 solves key pain points on the supply (Scotch whisky distilleries) and demand (pet food and fish feed producers) sides - to both dispose of Scotch by-products sustainably and increase the supply of sustainably sourced, price-competitive, Omega-3 into the broader market.“

Previous investors, Equity Gap, Old College Capital, and Scottish Enterprise renewed their support for MiAlgae and pledged additional funding of more than £1m in total, while new investor, SIS Ventures, agreed to commit £350,000.

“By improving food security and reducing the impact of humanity on the planet through sustainable Omega-3 production, MiAlgae will deliver important societal and environmental impact,” ​said SIS Ventures, Investment Manager, Rob Halliday.

MiAlgae has also received support from local agencies, including a grant of £850,000 from Zero Waste Scotland (not-for-profit environmental organisation) and Scottish Enterprise (national economic development agency).

Added-value products

The Edinburgh-based start-up launched in 2016 with the purpose of eliminating fish as the prime source of Omega-3 in pet food and doubled in size during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

With questions around the sustainability of some fisheries it is crucial to development alternative sources.

The solution developed by MiAlgae is a novel zero-waste process that harnesses microalgae as a source of Omega-3 and generates zero waste. Microalgae are cultivated in large vats and nourished using low value nutrient-rich co-products from the whisky distillation process.

Martin commented: “By utilising co-products from different industries and implementing innovative biotechnology processes to convert these into added value products, we can protect the environment, whilst building a vibrant economy.”

Initially established to supply Omega-3 to the pet food industry, the company is eyeing up expansion into aquaculture (fish food) and the human food sector.

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