Invasive algae is an issue all around the world. Totally different species of seaweed pose a risk to the oceanic atmosphere by smothering and killing coral, which has an impression on fish and different marine life.

Residing close to the ocean in Spain, Sònia Hurtado noticed the impact that the massive quantities of seaweed, referred to as Rugulopteryx okamurae, was having on the Mediterranean. It began in 2015 when a contamination occurred within the south of France and unfold all around the shoreline.

After assembly María Cermeño, an skilled in protein extraction from round meals supplies, the pair determined to rid the ocean of this pest and switch it into protein elements for meals. They based Poseidona, a Barcelona-based developer of sustainable meals know-how, which makes use of that invasive seaweed and algal side-streams — the waste that agricultural producers generate — to make proteins. On this case, it’s a soy protein various.

The corporate makes use of enzymatic hydrolysis, a molecular isolation course of usually used to recycle plastic and produce ethanol, and combines that with different applied sciences. Its secret sauce is the best way through which that’s carried out and the mix of enzymes used to make sure a high-quality protein finish product. They’re searching for dietary components and an total good performance of the protein, Hurtado stated.

“We even have a undertaking ongoing particularly caring for the organoleptics of the product, making certain it gained’t have any ‘spoiled seaweed’ taste and it’ll have a superb colour,” she informed For Millionaires. “The very best a part of utilizing the side-streams, in addition to the low or null price, is they’re already concentrated in protein. However it’s difficult on the identical time to make sure the protein is in fine condition and we extract all of it correctly.”

Neither Cermeño nor Hurtado are strangers to this space: Cermeño has a doctorate in meals biochemistry, and Hurtado was beforehand co-founder and chief scientific officer at Present Meals, which was beforehand referred to as Kuleana. The corporate made plant-based seafood and was acquired by the Depraved Kitchen in 2023.

Poseidona will not be the one one utilizing side-streams to make meals. There’s additionally Berlin-based Pacifico Biolabs, which introduced $3.3 million in pre-seed funding final month for its fermentation course of to make various seafood.

Poseidona founders Sònia Hurtado (left) and Maria Cermeño. Picture Credit: Poseidona

What’s pushed side-streams extra into the general public realm is that meals scientists are recognizing the necessity to discover new protein sources, Hurtado stated. On the identical time, these involved with meals manufacturing’s impact on the atmosphere see a whole lot of waste and side-streams being produced.

“For instance, within the pores and skin of rotten tomatoes, there are a whole lot of good colours and molecules that we might use,” Hurtado stated. “We have gotten an overpopulated world, and in some unspecified time in the future we have to take advantage of all of the sources that we have now as a result of we’re going to obtain some extent the place there gained’t be any extra sources.”

Poseidona’s first product is a soy various protein focus. Corporations usually have to experiment with colours and flavors of the elements. With preliminary prototypes, nevertheless, Hurtado and Cermeño discovered that the focus had an umami, or mushroom-like, style and considerably of a reddish colour. Hurtado stated they had been going for extra of a colour just like soy, however for now, they’re going with the pure colour.

If every little thing goes nicely, Hurtado expects to launch the focus on the finish of 2024. Serving to to maneuver the R&D alongside is a pre-seed funding spherical of €1.1 million ($1.19 million), led by Faber, certainly one of Europe’s main enterprise capital funds specialised in local weather tech and the blue economic system. The spherical additionally contains Dozen Investments, Sprout & About, ProVeg Worldwide and WA4STEAM (Ladies for STEAM).

In the meantime, there are particular authorities laws on the way to manipulate and gather the algae that Poseidona is utilizing for its merchandise. A decline within the fish inhabitants, resulting in much less work for fishermen, and an concept from Hurtado’s daughter impressed Hurtado and Cermeño to work on a program that will have fishermen gather seaweed as one other income stream. They plan to work on that within the coming years.

Poseidona additionally has plans to make use of other forms of invasive seaweeds — for instance, Sargassum — which Hurtado stated is affecting the Pacific Ocean.

“Our purpose is to have the ability to use a wide range of macroalgae species, utilizing our proprietary methodology, to develop nice proteins at an inexpensive price that can have the ability to compete with the mainstream plant-based proteins of soy and pea protein, that at present don’t have any competitors in any respect,” Hurtado stated. “We’ll finally have the ability to be in price parity with soy protein.”