Phyconomy, an information portal for the seaweed industry, has released its State of the Industry 2022. The report shows that a vibrant seaweed industry is emerging outside of Asia, and investors are beginning to take it seriously. The industry saw the number of investment deals double in 2021, from 17 to 34, and the amount invested over the past year grew by 36% to $168 million.
While these numbers are small compared to fish and shrimp aquaculture investment, the upward trend is impressive. The number of seed rounds grew from 12 to 20, and the number of Series A or B jumped from 1 to 9, which shows the seaweed industry is beginning to break out of its hatchling stage.
The startups that scored the biggest rounds in 2021 included Norwegian biorefinery Alginor ($33M) and Australia’s Sea Forest ($26M), tackling livestock methane emissions. Rounding out the top five were New Wave Foods ($18M — plant-based shrimp), Ocean’s Halo ($16M — seaweed snacks), and Notpla ($13.5M — bioplastics).
Other report highlights:
- While traditional venture capital firms are starting to discover seaweed, impact investors are still overrepresented in the space.
- Europe has the most vibrant seaweed startup ecosystem, but North American startups find it easier to attract capital.
- The number of new seaweed startups has grown by 50% in the past two years.
- The midstream of the value chain is still underserved: processing and distribution is a field that is lacking innovators and entrepreneurs.
As a crop that doesn’t use land, fresh water or fertilizer but instead takes up CO₂ and excess nutrients from the ocean, seaweed is being billed as the biomass of the future, with applications in food, feed, pharmaceuticals, textiles, personal care, soil health, construction, packaging, energy, carbon sequestration, and bioremediation.
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