Strategic partnership inked to commercialise microalgae protein potential

19 January 2023

NewFish & Cawthron Institute have signed a strategic agreement to commercialise microalgae intellectual property into food nutrition with a focus on specialised proteins.

Building on Cawthron’s extensive expertise in seaweed and microalgae, and the innovation and commercialisation capabilities of NewFish, the partnership will focus on shared research and the development of high-quality non-animal proteins from microalgae.

Cawthron is a world-leader in marine and freshwater research, with over 100 years of science history and a team of nearly 300 people from more than 30 countries headquartered in Nelson, New Zealand. Cawthron has proven expertise in extracting high-value bioactive compounds from marine organisms including algae. The research institute is also home to the nationally significant Culture Collection of Microalgae which holds over 600 different marine and freshwater microalgae.

Volker Kuntzsch, Cawthron Chief Executive, says the Institute is strongly focused on realising the potential of algae and marine bioactive resources.

“With the ocean making up 96 percent of Aotearoa New Zealand’s territory, there is a significant opportunity for our waters and its natural resources to provide for us now, and into the future. What fascinates me is that the environmental impact of growing algae and seaweed is so much smaller than traditional protein. Exploring the untapped potential of marine bioactives could signal the establishment of an exciting new industry for our country, with the aim of creating an exemplary blue economy with a healthy natural environment as the ultimate ambition.”

NewFish is a fast-growing US-New Zealand start-up focused on non-GMO algae fermentation and IP commercialisation into specialised ingredients. Toby Lane, incoming NewFish CEO, says resource-efficient and functional blue proteins are critical to shaping the future of the protein sector.

“With CO2 at its highest point in more than two million years, and the global population growing, we urgently need new sources of naturally sourced, high quality protein with reduced ecological externalities. We have a responsibility to provide consumers and customers with great tasting, healthy protein that has a light environmental footprint. Microalgae will play a pivotal role in delivering this.” says Toby.

Today’s announcement marks the start of a multi-year partnership to help unlock a blue-economy focused future for New Zealand and its partners.

Image: NewFish. From left, Tom Darby (Co-founder & Director, NewFish), Joel Bowater (Commercial Development Associate, Cawthron), Hamish Howard (COO and Director, NewFish), Imche Fourie (Director, NewFish), Johan Svenson (Manager – Science Impact, Cawthron), Cath McLeod (Chief Science Officer, Cawthron), Volker Kuntzsch (Chief Executive Officer, Cawthron), Greg Muir (Chairman, NewFish).

Volker Kuntzsch

Volker Kuntzsch

Chief Executive Officer, Cawthron Institute

Toby Lane

Toby Lane

Chief Executive Officer, NewFish

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