Surveying seaweed's grant funding landscape

This month I surveyed the grant funding that has gone into seaweed since 2015. With 250 grants representing $360 million in the database, what to conclude?

  1. Grant funding dwarfs private investment

  2. Best-funded are infrastructure, technology and processing projects that envision aquaculture at scale

Most interestingly, while governments are and will remain the big sponsors, since 2018, philanthropy has taken notice of seaweed. The perfect illustration came this month when WWF announced it would use some of its Bezos money to co-fund a Woods Hole research program on strain improvements that started in 2018 as a US government ARPA-E MARINER program.

Business

South Korea is leading the way on certification. Last year it was a Korean wakame farm that first achieved the ASC-MSC standard; this month, the first nori farm.

Ocean Scientific International Ltd (OSIL) has unveiled a new monitoring buoy designed to provide data tailored to the seaweed aquaculture industry.

Marinomed’s Carragelose nasal spray has been found to drive an 80% reduction in Covid-19 infections.

Sway has announced their low-density polyethylene bags will go on sale early 2022, while the Seaweed Company is looking to shift their first batch of bioplastic bags right now.

From B’Zeos to Zero Circle, the Phyconomy database now contains 25 start-ups working on seaweed bioplastics. None so far from China or Japan, though. We’re looking into it; your tips are welcome.

Jobs

SEADLING is looking for an experienced scientist to direct research on tropical macroalgae cultivation.

Filipe Alberto’s Lab has an opening for a post-doc to work on kelp genomics.

The Australian Blue Carbon Lab wants a number of researchers and PhD candidates to lead research on Coastal ‘Blue’ Carbon, Freshwater ‘Teal’ carbon, Ecosystem restoration, Ecosystem services,  Farm Dams, and more.

Science

A beautiful new unicellular algae was discovered off the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago.

OpenCTD is a low-cost, open-source instrument for measuring salinity, temperature, and depth in the ocean. Perfect for citizen science.

Government

The Partnership for Australia-Indonesia Research is continuing their work in South Sulawesi. Previous research found the local seaweed industry faces high costs in logistics and transport, and poor coordination between farmers, traders and processors limiting farmer incomes and creating quality issues for processors. The goal now is to help local governments develop effective policies to solve these issues.

Fiji wants to grow its seaweed industry, slowly - aiming for 200 tonnes in 2024.

Australia launched their seaweed strategy a few months ago - New Zealand couldn’t get left behind.

The State of Maine approved a 20-year lease for Shearwater Ventures’ seaweed aquaculture site.

P.S.

Japan’s kelp harvesters are lovingly portrayed in this documentary on dashi, Japan’s quintessential stock made from kombu and katsuoboshi (dried bonito flakes).

As always: writing newletters is a lonely métier - your tips and insights are welcome!

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