🍃The Paxtier Report 270422: 💰 Who Won $1M Over Earth Week?

PLUS De Beers Group invests US$2M, UPSIDE Foods raises $400M and a fireside chat with Philippe Bois

Dear algae technologists – Hello and welcome to The Paxtier Report for Wednesday, April 27th 2022! I hope you enjoyed a great Earth Week.

Recently, a new paper explored why spider fossils are so well preserved in the Aix-en-Provence region in France.

To uncover this mystery, the scientists stuck the fossils under a fluorescent microscope…

… And unexpectedly discovered that the spiders glowed.


Fossilised spiders shown in plain light and under UV illumination.

Here’s what the team had to say:

The fossils themselves contain a black polymer made of carbon and sulfur that, under the microscope, looks like the tar you see on the road. We also noticed there were just thousands and thousands and thousands of microalgae all around the fossils and coating the fossils themselves. This combination creates the glow, and we hypothesise that the chemistry of these microalgae and their secretions helped preserve the spiders for all that time.

“Be bold and start quickly. Society needs to see what’s possible.” — Professor Peter Ralph, Deep Green Biotech Hub

In today’s Earth Week Report:

Markets: Global Algae Innovations and Marine Permaculture SeaForestation rock XPRIZE

News: De Beers Group invests US$2 million in Kelp Blue

Epic: Greenwave’s Regenerative Ocean Farming Hub

Fireside chat: Algae Entrepreneur Philippe Bois

Around the web: Potential negative effects of ocean afforestation on offshore ecosystems

Markets and Investing Over Earth Week

Over the last 7 days, things got pretty wild in the realm of climate tech.

For starters, UPSIDE Foods raised $400m for their cultivated meat and seafood production operations, a phenomenal investment in this space. This was followed by Cycle Capital Demeter announcing their $160m new Circular Innovation Fund (“CIF”), and Neptune Robotics closing a $17M funding round for their ship-cleaning (algae-eliminating 😞) platform.

Soon after this, the excitement continued as Mitsubishi Corporation declared its plans to funnel $100M into Breakthrough Energy Catalyst (a program dedicated to accelerating innovative climate technologies), the European Investment Bank (EIB) committed up to $20 million to Circulate Capital’s Ocean Fund, and Nordea Asset Management also launched a new sustainable transition fund.

Algae Tech

On the subject of algae, some of the biggest moves we saw included:

  • Cascadia Seaweed Corporation announcing that it is set to receive up to $533,475 from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) to identify valuable compounds found in seaweeds to primarily support the agricultural sector.
  • Loliware showcasing its seaweed plastic pellets to the world. Loliware seaweed pellet tech
  • De Beers Group highlighting its US$2 million investment in Kelp Blue, an innovative start-up focused on growing and managing large-scale giant kelp forests, initially off the Namibian coast.
  • IFF-DuPont teaming up with Israeli foodTech start-up SimpliiGood to develop the first commercial smoked salmon analogue made entirely from a single ingredient: whole fresh spirulina.
  • Simris Alg (which produces fucoxanthin from microalgae) highlighting that Julian Read would soon be taking over as CEO. The board hopes that his arrival will improve production, drive additional revenue, raise gross margins, and broaden the B2B business offering beyond fucoxanthin into R&D and other high value bioactive substances.
  • Ventuno Co announcing the arrival of its new skin care brand “Mermaid Itohime”, which contains mekabu fucoidan (Wakame extract moisturizing ingredient) extracted from mekabu collected in the Fukuyoshi area of Itoshima city.

XPRIZE’s Earth Week Results

And the good news didn’t stop there either!

15 teams were awarded $1M last week as designated milestone winners of the Carbon XPRIZE competition…

… And it just so happens that two of those teams were:

1. Global Algae Innovations: An awesome team building a 160-acre algae farm to sequester thousands of tons of CO2 per year. They plan to convert the algae into polymer products, fuels, foods, and animal feed, which will also finance the purchase of land for rainforest regrowth.


Global Algae Innovations ponds (Credit Global Algae)

2. Marine Permaculture SeaForestation: A cool group creating floating, open-ocean kelp ecosystems which can be placed in oceanic deserts.


Marine Permaculture SeaForestation open ocean afforestation methodology (Credit Climate Foundation)

Congrats guys! Can’t wait to see what else is in store for you both.

In depth with Peter Green

Despite this news, not everyone seemed overly pleased with the XPRIZE results, least of all Boyd et al, who indirectly raised serious concerns about Marine Permaculture SeaForestation’s operation.

Check out our summary below.

📝Research Paper Review: Potential negative effects of ocean afforestation on offshore ecosystems

In this interesting piece, Boyd et al. explore some of the potential negative effects of ocean afforestation in an attempt to really assess the side effects of marine CDR on ocean ecology and physico-chemical feedbacks.

To do this, the team decides to model how these free-floating seaweed rafts might move in the oceans, before analysing other examples of offshore dispersal (like rafting plastic debris) and discussing the ramifications for offshore ecosystems.

Ultimately, the researchers are able to outline a number of potential side effects which they find quite worrying. These include altered nearshore ecosystems, harmful algal blooms, and shifts in biogeography of invasive species.

Moving forward, the team underscore how important it is to:

  1. Investigate the ramifications of inadvertent transfer of associated microbes and nearshore flora and fauna offshore.
  2. Explore the potential for adventive macroalgae to use allelopathy to compete with native microalgae for scarce offshore nutrients.
  3. Understand the influence of alteration of oceanic waters (DOC, VOCs and water column shading) on offshore biota.

They conclude that establishing these ecological metrics should be just as important for teams as understanding the CDR capacity of this technology.

💬Community Fireside Chats: Philippe Bois

Philippe Bois is an algae entrepreneur and scientist based out of Florida, US.

In 2014, he founded and become Chief Scientific Office of Avespa, a climate tech microalgae company which uses state of the art modular photo-bioreactor platform technology.

After several years at Avespa, Philippe left the company in 2018 and pivoted his career towards the macroalgae sector. In this edited conversation, we spoke about his journey so far, his perspective on the algae space, and his reasons for changing focus.

Here’s a teaser from our call:


Philippe Bois

What inspired you lately to work with macroalgae?

Every year in the Gulf of Mexico, the dead zone region experiences huge algae blooms driven by eutrophication. This process is devastating and results in the complete removal of oxygen from the water, which kills off all the shrimp.

Macroalgae can help with this problem, and it is this potential as an ecosystem restoration solution which I find particularly inspiring.

What advice would you give to others in the microalgae space?

There are many uses for microalgae, but on an industrial scale there are intrinsic biological limitations you need to be aware of when growing algae photosynthetically in PBRs. Being realistic about what is possible is an important skill.

🔥 What else was hot in algae tech this Earth Week?

  1. Why not try something interactive this week and play with Greenwave’s Regenerative Ocean Farming Hub? Find Tools, Community, and a Marketplace here for Ocean Farmers.
  2. (Paper) Researchers at the University of Helsinki in Finland have concluded that switching from a diet rich in meat and dairy products to one with plenty of “novel” foods like algae, insects, cultured meat and mycoproteins can cut the environmental impact of eating by more than 80 per cent. (Nature.com).
  3. The Financial Times takes a look at kelp and investors HERE.
  4. Here’s a cool piece about a team planning to fight climate change with genetically engineered super-trees. They even explain how adding a few genes from pumpkins and green algae could supercharge photosynthesis, significantly increasing the amount of carbon an engineered tree can store in its tissues. (Read more HERE)
  5. UK’s first dedicated Seaweed Academy launched at Oban (SAMS.com)
  6. An interesting piece about Algae for Future, a Portugal-based biotech company with a massive algae cascade raceway and operating commercial-scale microalgae production facilities.(Read more HERE).
  7. (Paper) New study reveals how microscopic algae became exceptionally nutritious over time, driving evolution forward.
  8. (Paper) Engineering artificial photosynthetic life-forms through endosymbiosis (Nature.com)
  9. Scotland commits to Blue Carbon International Policy Challenge (TheFishSite.com)
  10. 15 teams are advancing as finalists in the U.S. Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) 2022–2023 AlgaePrize competition. Finalist teams were selected based on their 10-page research synopsis which described each team’s research plan for their proposed project within the AlgaePrize’s areas of interest. These finalist teams will receive $5,000 in funding to support their research projects. (Energy.gov)

Top Earth Week Tweets:

11. Scientists from the University of Missouri are focusing their efforts on diatoms, hoping to learn how to maximise the full environmental benefits of the green algae (The Fish Site).

12. (Paper) Effects of wildfire ash from native and alien plants on phytoplankton biomass (Science of The Total Environment)

13. BGG World (BGG) and its subsidiary Algae Health Sciences (AHS) announce the second major expansion of their state-of-the-art, 100% glass tube photobioreactor microalgae farm in the last two years. This expansion will double the current capacity of BGG’s flagship AstaZine® Natural Astaxanthin line.

14. Small but mighty: How UArizona researchers are harnessing the power of algae to capture carbon (Read more HERE)

Earth Week Algae Jobs

  1. The Seaweed Company: 🌱 Blue Farming & Blue Health interns (location: Netherlands)💻 Social media & marketing interns (remote)🌿 Local seaweed operations & project intern (location: Zeeland, Netherlands)
  2. Product Manager, Notpla UK
  3. Postdoctoral Scientist for Coast-Cow-Consumer Project, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, East Boothbay, Maine

That’s all folks!

Thanks again for joining us this week. Hope you have a great day and stay tuned for more algae tech updates soon!


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