Sustainable seaweed aquaculture company Ocean Rainforest has announced the successful acquisition of $4.5 million in funding through a Technology to Market Plus Up award from the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E). This funding comes as part of the MARINER Program, further solidifying the company's commitment to advancing seaweed cultivation technologies and addressing critical environmental challenges.
Funding Rounds and Support
This recent financial boost follows a significant $6.2 million Series A funding round in February 2023, led by The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment. Notable participants in this round included Katapult Ocean's Deep Blue fund, Builders Vision, the Ocean Born Foundation, World Wildlife Fund (WWF-US), Norðoya Íløgufelag, and Twynam Invest. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) had previously invested $850,000 in Seed level funding for Ocean Rainforest in August 2020.
A Vision for Sustainable Seaweed Cultivation
Headquartered in the Faroe Islands with a U.S. subsidiary in Southern California, Ocean Rainforest is a pioneer in the field of kelp cultivation, managing the entire production process from seed to shelf-stable products. The company's ambitious vision extends to creating localized ocean rainforests worldwide. Notably, its California-based subsidiary recently secured an R&D permit for seaweed cultivation in federal waters, marking a significant milestone toward achieving commercial-scale production and processing.
The Environmental Benefits of Seaweed
Seaweed is renowned as one of the fastest-growing and most sustainable crops on Earth. It requires no fresh water or fertilizers, actively promotes marine biodiversity by creating habitats for marine wildlife, helps mitigate eutrophication by absorbing excess nutrients in seawater, and contributes to the resistance against localized ocean acidification. Ocean Rainforest is determined to tackle two pressing challenges: the need for sustainable, nutritious food and the escalating impacts of climate change. The company aims to achieve this by promoting the large-scale and sustainable cultivation of seaweed.
Innovations and Future Prospects
Since its establishment in 2010, Ocean Rainforest has developed a groundbreaking open-ocean cultivation system that thrives in the challenging offshore conditions of the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. This pioneering approach has positioned the company as one of Europe's largest commercial seaweed cultivators.
In collaboration with other MARINER Awardees, Ocean Rainforest plans to explore innovative aquaculture technologies, including automated outplanting, partial harvest techniques, system design for facilitated upwelling, and automated monitoring. These efforts aim to advance the industry towards economically viable open-ocean cultivation.
Moreover, the funding will support the pilot processing of biomass harvested from the offshore site. This will facilitate optimization for target market segments, particularly in areas like bio stimulants and functional feed ingredients that contribute to reducing carbon footprints within both the food and feed supply chains.
A Bright and Sustainable Future
Olavur Gregersen, CEO of Ocean Rainforest, expressed gratitude for the support received, stating, "This award from ARPA-E's Mariner Program signifies a powerful endorsement of our vision and dedication to creating a more sustainable future." Ocean Rainforest remains committed to driving innovation in seaweed aquaculture and environmental conservation, setting a promising course for a greener, more sustainable planet.