Edinburgh-based biotech startup, MiAlgae, has received an investment of £1 million to focus on the commercialization of its microalgae product, targeting the aquaculture and pet food industries. The biotech business uses co-products from the whisky distillation process to produce microalgae high in omega-3 and other nutrients. The algae can be used to sustainably feed fish. The company estimates that one ton of its algae saves up to 30 tons of wild fish.
MiAlgae will use the investment to double the size of its business premises, commission a demonstrator plant in East Lothian, Scotland and make five new appointments in the next 12 months. The investment comes from previous investors in MiAlgae – Equity Gap, Scottish Investment Bank and Old College Capital, alongside Hillhouse Group, a new investor in the business.
Andrew Vernon of Hillhouse Group said that “MiAlgae has essentially taken a by-product from one industry and turned it into a solution for another industry. Through the application of biotechnology, MiAlgae is finding solutions to feed the world’s population, and with the global aquaculture industry set to double in size in the next ten years, this is a very promising business indeed.”
Fraser Lusty, investment director at Equity Gap, said that “since our last investment in MiAlgae 18 months ago, the business has achieved a great deal, designing and building its pilot plant, making its first sales to a premium dog food company, and beginning production with its first large scale tank. The business now turns its focus to commercialization and scaling up. The global pet food market is worth $100 billion and growing at around five percent. MiAlgae plans to supply customers in both the pet food market and the aquaculture industry in the next 12 months. This is an exciting business, and one to watch over the next couple of years.”
MiAlgae was founded by Douglas Martin in 2016 while studying biotechnology at the University of Edinburgh. He is supported by Edinburgh Innovations, the University’s commercialization service, which also manages Old College Capital, the University’s venture fund. Martin said that “I am really pleased that with this investment we can turn our attention to growing the business. We plan to target the pet food and aquaculture industries with our sustainable, ocean-friendly, algae-derived omega 3. I am proud that we operate as part of the circular economy where, by using a low value co-product from the whisky industry, we are creating a valuable supply of nutrients for the animal and fish food industries, thereby using the planet’s resources more efficiently. There is no doubt we will see a rapidly growing market for our product.”