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Aqua-Spark invests in microalgae company Kuehnle AgroSystems

Kuehnle AgroSystems' patented process produces affordable, sustainable natural astaxanthin from algae for the salmon, shrimp, and human nutraceuticals markets.

Aqua-Spark invests in microalgae company Kuehnle AgroSystems
Heidi Kuehnle, co-inventor of the technology, CTO and co-founder of KAS (left) and Robert Schurr, senior scientist at KAS (right).

April 7, 2022


Kuehnle AgroSystems (KAS), an innovative Hawaii-based microalgae development company, has closed a Series A funding round with a new investor, Aqua-Spark, to support the transfer of KAS' pioneering technology to industrial scale. Prior to Aqua-Spark investing, KAS participated in an accelerator program through Hatch, another investment within Aqua-Spark's portfolio.

KAS has patented a novel platform process for the sustainable fermentation production of multiple economically relevant algae. For their lead product, this process is combined with KAS' unique non-GM strain of Haematococcus pluvialis to enable KAS to produce high levels of natural astaxanthin, affordably and at scale. Astaxanthin is commonly used as a pigment and antioxidant in aquafeed for salmonids and shrimp, and as a highly potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory with many documented health benefits in human nutraceuticals. Combined, these markets are estimated to be valued at around USD 1 billion per annum. Among pipeline products enabled by KAS' patent is a source of highly nutritious human protein and essential fatty acids from Chlamydomonas algae.

Heidi Kuehnle, co-inventor of the technology, CTO and co-founder of KAS, said that “this pivotal technology has the potential to revolutionize algae production for pigments and protein by not only slashing operational cost, cropping time, and water footprint today but with the potential in the future for recycling the gas generated during fermentation to produce feedstock to be fedback into the fermentation process.”

Claude Kaplan, CEO of KAS, added that “KAS has been working on the development and commercialization of our algal natural astaxanthin for over five years. With Aqua-Spark coming on board, we can now fully exploit the opportunity to bring our novel, affordable, sustainably produced astaxanthin to the salmon and shrimp markets and, ultimately, replace synthetic astaxanthin. We are extremely excited to work with Aqua-Spark, and their other portfolio companies, and be able to tap into their vast expertise and networks as we look to bring our aquafeed and nutraceutical products to market in 2022.”

Mike Velings and Amy Novogratz, co-founders of Aqua-Spark, said, “we're excited to welcome KAS to our portfolio because we believe producing salmonids fed with natural astaxanthin will not only improve their health but also help to shift consumer perception of the farmed species. KAS is poised to have a valuable impact on the sustainable farming of salmonids, making natural astaxanthin more affordable for farmers who already use it, and by encouraging more farmers who use synthetic astaxanthin to switch to the natural variant.”

Check out Kuehnle AgroSystems recent article in our Aquafeed Magazine.

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