Irish seaweed biotech pioneer raises €1.5 million

Ireland's Pure Ocean Algae plans to double its staff after it raised €1.5 million in seed funding.

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
29 August 2022, at 2:20pm
Pure Ocean Algae CEO Michael O'Neill
Pure Ocean Algae CEO Michael O'Neill

O'Neill produces the native red seaweed Palmaria palmata, that is also known as Dulse

Pure Ocean Algae, a macroalgae-based biotechnology company based on the Beara peninsula has successfully completed a seed funding round which will see it invest more than €3 million over the next two years in building out and growing its business platform as well as creating new jobs in West Cork.

Formed in 2019, Pure Ocean Algae is the first commercial end to end production platform to produce the red seaweed Palmaria palmata, commonly known as Dulse. Dulse is a highly prized red seaweed used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetics and food/vegetable protein sectors. Macro-algae species are particularly high in protein and are environmentally sustainable, commanding retail prices of more than €120 per dried kg dried and grow very well under Irish conditions. The existing natural sources are coming under more and more pressure from over exploitation and destruction of its natural habitat, something that Pure Ocean Algae would like to see reversed.

Led by CEO, Michael O’Neill, the company operates its own land-based hatchery, nursery and processing facility while also developing eighty hectares of licensed sea sites for the growing of various seaweed species. The investment will be used to expand the existing land-based facilities to cater for 250 hectares of sea site production and ancillary services.

a land-based seaweed nursery
O'Neill at the land-based seaweed nursery in Ireland's Beara peninsula

Dulse is a highly prized red seaweed used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetics and food/vegetable protein sectors

Working with existing seaweed farmers the company hopes to expand to a production area of 500 hectares over the next three years.

Speaking of the announcement of its first round of funding, CEO and founder Michael O’Neill says, “This funding will allow us to expand our land-based production sites, our sea-based capabilities, and will allow us to expand our R&D and implementation teams. We are also investigating various opportunities to develop the services element of the business through international partnerships and collaborations to bring our technology to a global audience.

Pure Ocean Algae is a vehicle for positive impact socially, economically, and environmentally. Given the ever-increasing evidence of global warming and its impacts on our lives and for future generations it is imperative that we investigate new and innovative solutions to slow its progress and ultimately reverse the damage caused by man-made climate change. Our ambition is to grow a business that supports our strong environmental ethos while creating value chains which support our bottom line and satisfy the expectations of our investors.”

This round of funding was led by The Yield Lab, Europe’s largest early-stage Ag-Tech investor which is itself supported by Enterprise Ireland and AIB. Also joining this funding are the West Cork based Carbery Group, US based Sea-ahead Blue Angel Group and Enterprise Ireland.

Commenting on the investment, David Bowles, managing partner at The Yield lab Europe said "We are very excited to be supporting Michael and the team at Pure Ocean Algae. The Blue economy is a very vibrant space currently and critical for Europe to deliver on its climate commitments. At The Yield Lab we have seen a lot of companies that are attempting to deliver seaweed related solutions and we were very impressed with the quality and sophistication of what the team in Beara have delivered. We had no hesitation in investing in such a world leading product.”

Alan Hobbs, Manager Enterprise Ireland HPSU added “Pure Ocean Algae is an excellent Irish biotech company making a positive sustainable impact with their innovative red seaweed platform from the Beara Peninsula. Established in 2019, this HPSU has already made great progress and is providing high quality employment in West Cork. Enterprise Ireland has worked closely with Pure Ocean Algae since its inception and we look forward to continuing to work with Michael and the team on their global ambition”