Twenty-three new jobs are to be created in Galway by green biotech company Algae Health, which has landed a €1m investment in a round led by AIB Seed Fund and the Western Investment Fund, including support from Údarás Na Gaeltachta.
The funding will enable Algae Health to commercialise the business and create five new high-value biotechnology jobs in the Galway region over the next 12 months. This will increase to 23 new positions within three years.
Algae Health (Slainte Alga Teoranta) specialises in the cultivation of microalgae for the extraction of health and nutritional compounds. Microalgae are one of longest existing living organisms on Earth. It is also the source of many of nature’s nutritional and health compounds, which is subsequently passed onto humans in the food chain.
King of carotenoids
Algae Health was set up in late 2009 and, following three years of R&D, developed its proprietary cultivation technology (patent pending). This technology enables the optimal control of the cultivation conditions, maximising yield, and allowing the process to happen at a far lower cost than traditional methods.
The company’s initial product is called Astaxanthin. This product is found in wild fish and creates the pink colour which is found in fish meat. Its high antioxidant capacity cleans and revitalises cells within the body and is important for brain and eye health, reducing the effects of aging, as well as physical endurance.
Astaxanthin is known as the ‘king of carotenoids’, as it has an antioxidant effect of 550 times that of vitamin E. However, with very few people eating wild fish, this health substance is missing from most consumers’ diets, as most farmed fish are fed a synthetic dye which does not have the same health benefits. Astaxanthin, as a product, aims to fill this market need in the global fish industry.
AIB Seed Capital Fund is co-managed by Enterprise Equity Venture Capital. The Western Investment Fund is managed by the Western Development Commission.
“Algae Health is thrilled to achieve the required level of funding to commercialise the business, especially in the current economic conditions,” Algae’s managing director Edward McHugh said.
“This funding will commercialise our technology and bring us to a self-sustaining position. We already have a strong customer pipeline and are really looking forward to years ahead. I would very much like to thank Enterprise Equity, WDC and Údarás na Gaeltachta for supporting our company.”
Gillian Buckley, investment manager with the Western Development Commission added: “Investing in Algae Health ticks all the boxes for the WDC, it presents us with an opportunity to invest in a very innovative high-potential business which is exploiting the natural resources of the Western Region in a sustainable manner and creating high-tech jobs.”