Seaweed Startups: Recent Off the Boat | Entrepreneur

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Seaweed Startups: Recent Off the Boat | Entrepreneur


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Witnessing the dawn on a seashore, along with your ft buried within the sand kissing the waves of the ocean, you can see your entire temper and atmosphere a picture-perfect one. However the water our bodies have extra to supply than simply aesthetic trip photos. Just a few kilometers into the ocean rests a zone with a depth of fifty meters or much less, making it the right setting to domesticate macroalgae, popularly generally known as seaweed.

A SUSTAINABLE INGREDIENT AND ECO-FRIENDLY ALTERNATIVE TO PLASTIC

Whereas seaweed is a broad time period used for various marine species and algae present in lakes, ponds, seas, and oceans, the most important potential lies in its extracts, which can provide us a sustainable and eco-friendly different to one of many greatest threats to humankind- plastic. The latter is an indispensable materials in virtually each sector, together with textiles, constructing and development, client merchandise, transportation, electrical and electronics and industrial equipment.

“Seaweed’s versatility makes it a promising different to conventional plastic in a variety of functions. The meals bins, as an illustration, that you simply get your burger in have a really skinny line of coating that makes the paper field oil resistant. That is the hidden plastic nobody talks about – the present coatings are normally infused with lots of synthetics and PFAs, which is extraordinarily dangerous for us and the setting,” says Neha Jain, CEO and founder, Zerocircle.

Seaweed can be famend for its capacity to mitigate local weather change by isolating carbon dioxide from the environment. Moreover, it performs an important function in agriculture as a soil conditioner, soil fertilizer, and pesticide. It is a good supply of nutritional vitamins, minerals and fibre, thus making a class of seaweed edible in nature. The cosmetics and sweetness business holds macroalgae in excessive regard and it is usually an awesome potential different to crude oil.

GLOBAL AND INDIAN MARKET

Whereas seaweed has a number of use instances, its cultivation within the nation is abysmally low. At current, China, Indonesia, and the Philippines are counted as a number of the greatest producers of seaweed. In July 2022, the Central Marine Fisheries Analysis Institute reported that India has the potential to supply about 9.7 million tonnes of seaweed yearly in opposition to a trivial variety of 34,000 tonnes in 2021. The largest issue behind the potential is India’s 7,516.6 km lengthy shoreline. The excellent news is seaweed is present in abundance within the states of Goa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and round Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

PLAYERS

Regardless of the large alternative, little over a dozen Indian startups are working on this house. Abhiram Seth established AquAgri Processing Pvt Ltd in 2008 with the intention of competing with different Asian international locations for seaweed cultivation coupled with employment technology for coastal communities, particularly native girls. “Aquagri began its operations with the imaginative and prescient of making livelihoods for the coastal communities and sustained the enterprise by exporting the uncooked dry seaweed to worldwide processors for carrageenan manufacturing. As soon as important biomass scale was achieved, it led Aquagri to arrange an area carrageenan manufacturing facility,” the founder and managing director of AquAgri shared.

Over time, AquAgri’s progressive course of to optimize water utilization led to the event of biostimulant functions for agriculture. The Sethi-founded startup gives its merchandise within the area of meals options, plant diet, animal diet, and seaweed cultivation. It has its manufacturing facility situated in Manamaduari, Tamil Nadu.

In 2020, Jain needed to make her house a plastic-free one, but it surely went in useless. After thorough analysis and understanding, she realized that the each day merchandise one makes use of in each day life contribute to the planet’s air pollution, “Air pollution, local weather crises and each downside that comes with plastic is a ‘now’ downside, there isn’t a future if we do not attempt to repair it right now.” And that’s how Zerocircle was born.

The startup was just lately acknowledged by the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize for its initiative. It’s a B2B model serving to companies and producers to undertake carbonefficient supplies and works with gamers within the style, e-commerce and F&B industries. “Our seaweed-based coatings aren’t solely a viable different to the present ones, however they’re additionally extraordinarily excessive performing and cost-effective,” shares Jain. The startup sources seaweed from farming communities in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

The 2010 biofuel firm Sea6 Vitality is likely one of the key gamers within the Indian house. It was established to handle India’s crude oil dependence. “We had been searching for options to assist handle India’s dependence on crude oil and be self-sufficient after we realized that small-scale options would not work. We would wish to transform all of India’s agricultural output into crude oil for us to cease importing crude oil. Couple that with a rising inhabitants and declining agricultural land – we knew that the one approach out was to have the ability to make use of the ocean round us,” shared Nelson Vadassery, co-founder and chief know-how officer, Sea6 Vitality, earlier with Entrepreneur India.

Whereas it additionally operates within the biostimulant, animal feed, natural meals elements, bioplastic, and biofuels, it’s closely working and investing in mechanized ocean farming. “We’re growing an entire vary of product traces primarily based on seaweed-derived plastics, which will likely be a significant set off of development,” added Vadassery.

GROWING STARTUP ECOSYSTEM HAMPERING AQUATIC LIVELIHOOD AND COMMUNITIES?

“We carefully work with native communities to make sure that the farming practices are sustainable to keep away from overfishing and harm to the marine setting. These farms make sure that their farming practices aren’t interfering with the pure ecosystem. We solely use inexperienced and clear chemistry and energy-efficient processing strategies to optimize sources like water and electrical energy,” shares Jain.

THE FUNDING DEARTH

Regardless of the chance the section exhibits, solely a handful of startups are funded. Although the price of manually organising seaweed is comparatively low, with income being excessive, it’s a time-consuming and labor-intensive course of. Moreover, conventional cultivation strategies utilizing ropes underwater limits large-scale manufacturing and battle with fish touchdown centres and business fishing actions pose an impediment. “We really feel there are definitely extra groups on the market engaged on using seaweed for varied use instances, however most of those groups will likely be within the analysis part and won’t be on the lookout for funding or commercializing the product at this stage. Cultivating seaweed will not be much like agriculture or aquaculture and is a brand new and unexplored panorama in India. There’s extra funding wanted for rising seaweed since farming and processing requires specialised infrastructure. Since Seaweed-based innovation is comparatively new, many buyers additionally is probably not conscious of the potential alternatives,” shared Dinesh Pai, Investments, Rainmatter Basis. RMF invested in Zerocircle again in 2021.

Seaweed farmers are transferring away from the standard strategies of cultivating seaweed with using nets and in the direction of a technique using ropes and lengthy traces because the latter have a tendency to wreck marine life, whereas lengthy traces give technique to a larger yield of seaweed per sq mt. Automated processes can improve the manufacturing course of whereas decreasing crop harm. THE

FUTURE

The worldwide seaweed market is anticipated to develop at a CAGR of seven per cent from 2017 to 2025. The Indian authorities is planning and investing within the section accordingly to purpose for a seaweed manufacturing value 1 million tonnes yearly by 2025. The federal government has additionally applied the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana in all states and territories from FY 2020- 21 to FY 2024-25. Moreover, its Blue Revolution scheme is anticipated to provide the seaweed house a push. Division of Fisheries’ ‘100 Tremendous Success Tales from Indian Fisheries’ is a set of people and initiatives which have grown from the PMMSY, the place 5 success tales pertained to seaweed.

So, the place can we count on the seaweed business to be within the subsequent 5-10 years? “If the business is to reach the low-cost mass manufacturing of marine algae, then potentialities of biofuels can be unlocked, which might herald a brand new period for sustainable vitality sources. The longer term is vibrant, however a conducive setting to assist development and for channelizing the funding is important for fulfillment,” concluded Seth.



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