Aqua-Spark and chemicals giant partner to invest in seaweed firm

Germany’s BASF Venture Capital has partnered with aquaculture-focused investment fund Aqua-Spark to back seaweed innovator Sea6 Energy in its Series-B round.

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
18 August 2022, at 8:00am
offshore seaweed cultivation
Sea6 Energy's sea combine harvester for red seaweed

Sea6 Energy will complete its Series-B transaction valued at $18.5 million

BASF Venture Capital is the corporate venture arm of the leading chemical firm BASF SE. BASF has joined forces with Aqua-Spark* to invest in Sea6 Energy’s Series-B round. Sea6 Energy was founded in 2010 and is based in Bangalore, India. The company specialises in producing and processing tropical red seaweed. Other existing investors include Tata Capital Innovations Fund. With this investment, Sea6 Energy will complete its Series-B transaction of $18.5 million in total.

Red seaweed grows mainly in tropical waters in Asia, which have constant, high temperatures conducive to year-round growth of seaweed. Biomass from the fast-growing red seaweed is suitable as a raw material for a variety of applications like animal feed and fertiliser. It can also be used as a gelling agent in the food industry or as an ingredient in cosmetics. Though seaweed cultivation is expanding in Asia and Europe, it has been difficult for seaweed producers to achieve economies of scale. Commercial offshore cultivation on a large scale is complex and the technical systems must withstand adverse weather conditions, such as storms and waves.

Sea6 Energy has adapted its cultivation technology to operate in deeper water and to withstand these difficult weather events. Its technology covers both parts of the value chain with its integrated business model. The firm uses satellite imagery to identify the right locations with the right conditions for its farms. Under suitable conditions, Sea6 Energy can achieve at least six harvests per year.

Amy Novogratz and Mike Velings
Amy Novogratz (L) and Mike Velings (R) are managing partners of Aqua-Spark

Aqua-Spark is based in the Netherlands and focuses on making investments in the global aquaculture industry

“Sea6 has made great progress over the past year, and we are excited to continue to support the company. We believe Sea6’s seaweed cultivation technology is a real game-changer in the industry, making a variety of applications of red seaweed possible on a commercial scale,” said Aqua-Spark managing partners Mike Velings and Amy Novogratz. Aqua-Spark has been an investor in Sea6 Energy since June 2021.

The company is headquartered in Bangalore, India, and has established a fully owned subsidiary that carries farms seaweed at a commercial scale in Bali, Indonesia. Sea6 operates various plants in Tuticorin, India, that processes red seaweed for different applications. The company produces biostimulants for agriculture and shrimp farming that increase resistance to disease and stress. Sea6 Energy is also working to develop bioplastics and biofuels from red seaweed. Sea6 Energy has also developed a proprietary process that increases the shelf life of red seaweed from one to two days to up to 60 days. This facilitates the transport of fresh red seaweed that would otherwise only be transported over longer distances once it has been dried.

“Sea6 Energy convinced us with its integrated business model,” said Markus Solibieda, Managing Director of BASF Venture Capital GmbH. “With its extensive experience in the field of biotechnology, the team has created very good upstream conditions for cultivating red seaweed as biomass on a large scale while also demonstrating success downstream through its biorefinery. This opens up opportunities for transitioning traditionally crude-dependent industries such as the chemical industry to renewable feedstocks.”

“Our vision is to be able to offer red seaweed biomass and products on a large scale sustainably and reliably. Thanks to our patented mechanised cultivation technology, we can produce high quality biomass in large scale at competitive pricing which can enable products like Bioplastics and Biofuels as well,” says Shrikumar Suryanarayan, CEO and co-founder of Sea6 Energy. “We look forward to having experienced partners at our side in BASF and are happy about the renewed commitment of Aqua-Spark.”

*Hatch is part of Aqua-Spark's investment portfolio, but The Fish Site retains editorial independence.