In Innovation Spotlight, we explore some of the most promising innovations from around our community. This week, we take a look at MiAlgae, a Scottish start-up set to revolutionise the £340 billion (€385 billion) global livestock feed industry by cultivating algae as a more sustainable animal feed. 

Currently, fishmeal (minced up small fish) is commonly used as a dietary supplement to provide protein, omega-3 rich fat, vitamins and minerals to cattle, pigs, poultry and farmed fish. It contributes significantly to overfishing, especially in poorer areas of the world where regulation can be weaker, pushing fisheries towards collapse.

MiAlgae addresses this by using by-products from local whisky distilling processes together with waste water to grow micro algae, which is also rich in omega-3. This substitutes the need for fishmeal in the livestock feed industry, and dampens incentives to overfish.

Speaking to Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, hosts of EIT Climate-KIC’s start-up Accelerator program, of which MiAlgae is part, CEO Douglas Martin said:

“I was working in the North Sea when a big algal bloom halted our work for months. It got me thinking about how we could put that algae to better use.

“The aquaculture feed industry is worth £17 billion globally, and this is projected to double in the next 15 years. Our hope is to create a large-scale, low cost microalgae production company.

“Our microalgae is naturally rich in healthy omegas, so it increases these levels in farmed salmon. It’s the omegas that make oil-rich fish, like salmon, good for you. Using waste water cuts costs, plus our process allows us to clean the water we use before recycling it.

“We want to start selling globally in the next five years. Our key focus initially is Scotland and Europe, followed by North America and China. Scotland’s a great place to be, and we’re planning to take on the world from here.”

MiAlgae has been on a roll in the last few months, having secured £500,000 of investment from Equity Gap, the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB) and the University of Edinburgh’s Old College Capital. Martin was named 2017 Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year and awarded £30,000. Just last month, the company also won the maximum Scottish EDGE award of £100,000.

The attracted investment will help the company expand its team and increase its production. It also plans to build a new plant for its technology at a whisky distillery.

ECCI is currently supporting 23 Scottish companies through EIT Climate-KIC entrepreneurship programmmes including the Accelerator and Greenhouse. Those taking part have scooped 27 awards and more than £1 million investment to date.

You can read more about MiAlgae and other start-ups supported by the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation here.

 
Location
United Kingdom
Related Goal
Goal 9: Reboot regional economies
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