In smoothies, soups, pastas, sauces, sweets, dips and who knows what else. Spirulina (algae) fits into a lot of dishes and drinks. The alga is hyper-healthy and is grown in a revolutionary way in Bolsward. Thanks to funding from NOM, FOM, and NEW, I AM ALGAE can scale up considerably.
In powdered and tablet form, Spirulina is already widely taken worldwide. Makes sense. More than sixty percent of the alga is plant protein, and then it also contains seven vitamins and several minerals. Still, there is a way to make the health benefits even better: by offering the Spirulina in fresh form. And that is exactly the challenge that the startup I AM ALGAE took up.
''You mainly need water and sunlight for cultivation,'' explains CEO Filips Jager. ,,We sometimes say that we managed to hack the light. We have developed a technology that allows us to grow algae continuously and sustainably using energy-efficient artificial light. Scaling up quickly is no problem with that.'' Jager thinks the unique "factory" will be up and running early next year. The product will then be available for anyone to order via the I AM ALGAE webshop, after which it will be delivered frozen to the end user.
We offer the algae the very best growing conditions all year round
The founders of I AM ALGAE know each other from other projects around the challenges of food transition. Jager: ,,Our mission is to make a serious contribution to that, especially to the protein transition. Apart from that, sustainability plays an important role in every decision we make. Ultimately, our goal is to have fresh algae available to every consumer anytime, anywhere.'' They are tech-savvy; their startup is essentially a tech company. ''With our patented technology, we make Spirulina grow optimally year-round. We build high-tech equipment to grow low-tech algae.''
The startup expects that scaling up will be necessary in the short term. ''We are in a protein transition. From animal to vegetable proteins. Our product fits perfectly into that. Health is important, convenience and taste too. Our fresh algae have a nice fresh taste. The combination of wellness, freshness and convenience is reflected in the look and feel of our brand. We supply frozen Spirulina in cubes, a bit what people are used to with spinach. We are convinced that demand for this will increase rapidly.''
So do the Investment and Development Company for the Northern Netherlands (NOM), the Frisian Development Company (FOM) and the national investment fund Netherlands Enabling Watertechnology (NEW). Together they are putting a substantial amount of money into the startup. NOM Investment Manager Allard van der Horst speaks on behalf of the funds. ,,I AM ALGAE is a good team with a very promising proposition. Less space, less energy, more continuity, more taste, more health. This startup fits perfectly with the funds' objectives.''
Curious? Read more on the I AM ALGAE website.