Ideas Lab resident MiAlgae wins funding bid

05 June 2017

ECCI resident start-up MiAlgae has just been awarded a Scottish Enterprise SMART: SCOTLAND grant to fund one year’s worth of research and development.

The company is one of the latest round of start-ups to win a place on ECCI’s Ideas Lab accelerator programme, which helps great business ideas take off by providing office space, coaching and access to our low carbon community.

Started by University of Edinburgh alumna Douglas Martin, the company uses waste water to grow microalgae that can be turned into feed for livestock and commercially farmed fish.

Douglas said: “This grant is a fantastic boost – it will give us funding to prove our production process.

“Our microalgae replaces the practice of mincing up other small fish to put into animal and fish feed.

“The Omegas – or good nutrients – in farmed salmon have dropped by half over the last five years.

“This is because collapsing fish stocks are driving the use of fishmeal replacements such as soya beans and sunflower seeds.

“But our microalgae feed is naturally rich in Omegas so it brings the levels back up – it’s where the healthy bit comes from.

“Using waste water cuts costs, plus there’s the benefit that we clean up the water we use and put it back - a triple win.”

Douglas graduated last year with a University of Edinburgh Masters in Synthetic Biology and Biotechnology. So what was the lightbulb moment that led to MiAlgae being born?

“I was working in the north sea installing cables for an offshore wind company, and a big algae bloom halted our work for months.

“It got me thinking about how we could put that algae to better use.”

What role has ECCI played in MiAlgae’s journey?

“The support we’ve had from ECCI as part of the Ideas Lab has been brilliant, especially in terms of networking and contacts.

“It’s helped us move forward with developing our waste water contacts and finding a supplier.

“We also got help from a student funded through the NERC internship programme run by ECCI, who did invaluable work helping us to research sources of waste water.”

Where next for MiAlgae?

“The aquaculture feed industry is worth £17 billion globally, and this is projected to double in the next 15 years.

“The hope is to create a large-scale, low cost microalgae production company.

“In the next five years we hope to be selling globally. Our key focus is Scotland and Europe, and then North America and China.

“Scotland’s a great place to be, and we’re planning to take on the world from here!”

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