BASF has invested in Sea6 Energy, an Indian producer of tropical red seaweed used as an ingredient in cosmetics and other products.
In conjunction with Aqua-Spark, a Dutch investment fund focusing on the global aquaculture industry, and Tata Capital Innovations Fund, BASF Venture Capital has invested around $18.5m in the Bangalore outfit.
In addition to cosmetics, biomass from the fast-growing red seaweed is suitable as a raw material for animal feed and crop protection products, as a gelling ingredient in the food industry.
The market volume for seaweed products was almost $17 billion in 2020. However, 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 the conditions in deeper water and adverse weather conditions and covers both parts of the value chain with its integrated business model.
To identify the right locations with the right conditions for its farms, Sea6 Energy uses satellite imagery, for example. Under suitable conditions, at least six harvests per year are possible.
Sea6 operates various plants in Tuticorin, India, for the further processing of red seaweed for different applications.
For example, the company produces biostimulants for use in agriculture and shrimp farming that increase resistance to disease and stress.
In addition, Sea6 Energy has 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, which can 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.
“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,” he added.
“This opens up opportunities for transitioning traditionally crude-dependent industries such as the chemical industry to renewable feedstocks.”