Meet Arctic Seaweed, who is trying to solve the scaling technology problem for the industry
Arctic Seaweed believes that the seaweed industry is here to stay and that there is significant potential to increase volume and a lack of scaling technology. Their mission is to maximise volume as a company, but also as an industry.
Can you tell something about Arctic Seaweed?
'Arctic Seaweed has existed since 2016. Our main focus at the moment is to enable a global and sustainable seaweed industry. Sustainable as in green, but also as in an industry that can survive for a long time. There is a strong case for scaling up the seaweed sector in Europe. Seaweed for Europe is forecasting 8 million tonnes of seaweed production by 2030. We believe that the industry doesn't exist without volume. So, we see ourselves as a technology company trying to solve this scaling technology problem for the industry.
We believe that the seaweed industry is here to stay and that there is significant potential to increase volume and we believe that there is a lack of scaling technology. Our mission is to maximize volume as a company, but also as an industry. Without volume there is no industry. One way to do that is to produce our own seaweed, which we are doing at the moment in different locations around Bergen.
We also enable others to produce seaweed through a model we called Seaweed as a Service (SaaS). It's a way of enabling other seaweed farmers to get access to our seaweed platform technology in return for volume buybacks and a predefined royalty fee.'
How do you believe in the potential of seaweed?
'I'm actually very much in love with seaweed. It just makes so much sense when you look at the fundamentals of the industry and the problems we are trying to solve... Take food security for example: we need to grow more food for 10 billion people, but how do we do that more sustainably? Seaweed can play an important role.
It doesn't need fresh water, fertiliser or land. It creates local jobs and brings back local life through supply chains. Of course seaweed is not going to solve all the world's problems, we have to be careful not to do that. But the characteristics of seaweed tick all the boxes. Right now, I believe it's the perfect storm for seaweed.'
What’s your ambition with Arctic Seaweed?
'At Arctic Seaweed we focus on food applications, both direct and indirect.
For direct food: we can supply seaweed for salads, direct products, seaweed as ingredients and food supplements. And on the indirect food side, if we produce seaweed for animal feed and agriculture, it still makes the food supply chain more sustainable. And if we produce a fertiliser that happens to grow more seaweed more sustainably, that also counts as an indirect food application.
To unlock other areas of the market like fertilizer, we need to work on economies of scale through increasing the volumes. Without that, we will not be able to get a viable business model for anything outside premium food grade seaweed.
For that we need the processes to be highlyautomated, highly mechanised, modular and adaptable to all kinds of areas where you want to grow seaweed. That's why we've designed our seaweed platform for industrial farming: with minimal surface clutter, very clean and tidy, designed to be integrated into highly industrialized areas for example in wind farms.
On top of our seaweed technology platform, we also offer a end-to-end production facility that is mobile and can be installed on various types of vessels. We offer direct seeding, harvesting, processing as well as storage in one step so that the client receives a product ready for further processing in their value chain.'
Why do you want to join North Sea Farmers?
‘Until now, we have worked very much under the radar. We were quite well known to Orkla because we were one of the first seaweed companies securing interest and investment from the buyer side.
We knew we needed time to prove our technology and our seaweed farms. We think NSF is a very well known brand in the industry, especially in wind farm space. We believe windfarm integrations will be one of the key scale drivers for us and the industry.'
What could other North Sea Farmers approach you for?
‘We are always interested in exchanging knowledge and experience with other seaweed farmers and actors in the industry.
There are so many algae companies coming up and they can't afford to do another 6 years of R & D. We all need to lift the industry by empowering ourselves but also empowering others. Because we will only survive if the volumes go up, otherwise we will not be able to reach the scale. So let us work on that together.’