First steps towards a rapidly growing algae industry in Europe

Researchers at Nord University are working internationally to create a profitable and environmentally friendly future within blue-green business activity.

An interdisciplinary, international research team together with industry actors is now designing a future vision around a rapidly growing algae industry in Europe.

Members of the iSea project (initiative towards sustainable macroalgae farming in Europe) recently met for three days of workshops and a panel debate at Nord University. As a result of the meeting, the members found a viable path towards a profitable and environmentally friendly industry in the production of macroalgae. This includes food, bio-based fuels, cosmetics ingredients and ecosystem services. ​

The workshop involved long days that resulted in many productive discussions and ideas. Photo: Karin Andrea Wigger

​Researcher Alexander Jüterbock at the Faculty of Biosciences and Aquaculture at Nord University is pleased with the workshop, which brought together industry actors and researchers from three different faculties at the university - and two different countries; Norway and Portugal.

“We have had three days packed with subject-specific discussions and ideas where the aim has been to create a roadmap for the further work of building an environmentally friendly and profitable macroalgae industry. This involves seaweed, kelp, green algae and red algae. The result is a foundation for further work regarding ideas across disciplines", says Jüterbock.

The roadmap is the first step on a long road towards a profitable macroalgae industry.

“The special thing about this workshop was that we gathered experts from different fields. We had biological researchers, people from the social sciences, business administration and the algae industry. This enabled us to look at the algae industry from a new and different perspective. Furthermore, the breadth of disciplines enabled us to look at business activity from different angles, not just from a financial perspective. This is something we must do if we are to build a lasting and sustainable industry", he says.

The work that has now been done shows the way towards the sustainable farming of macroalgae based on an analysis of the current algae industry and scenarios of sustainable algae farming in the future. This involves seaweed, kelp, green algae and red algae.​

Canoeing on Futelva river helped create a good team spirit. Photo: Karin Andrea Wigger

Project partners include Nord University, MARE - Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre, CCMAR - Centre of Marine Sciences, AlgaPlus, Norwegian Institute for Bioeconomy (NIBIO), Norwegian Seaweed Association.