Scottish start-up secures investment to accelerate 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).
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.