FARNET
Fisheries Areas Network

Good Practice Project

Cultivating microalgae for omega-3

Official Title: 
Microalgae oil production plant in Carballo
Country:
Thanks to FLAG support, a new start-up company has been launched to cultivate microalgae on land for oil extraction, to be used as a pharmaceutical-grade nutrient for human consumption.

Description

Jacobo Bouzada Rodríquez was recently out of university where he had studied chemical engineering. Having worked on various marine related research projects, including for fish processing plants, he saw an opportunity to develop a high-value product from a specific species of seaweed that was abundant off the coast of Galicia. Indeed, trials of various types of micro-algae had revealed that the oil that could be extracted from this seaweed was particularly high in omega-3, commonly used as a health supplement.

While fish processing plays a strong role in the economy of Costa da Morte, Galicia, this offered an opportunity to diversify the local economy by bringing together a new type of aquaculture with the manufacturing of a high value product: omega-3 capsules.

With support from the Costa da Morte FLAG, Jacobo found an appropriate production site in proximity to the supply of micro-algae needed and developed his business plan and company, Carbiotech. The FLAG also helped put him in contact with local fishermen and shellfish gatherers to identify and collect the micro-algae which will then be grown to maturity in a specially designed plant. Equipment was designed to press the microalgae and extract and refine the oil. To start with, this oil will be sold directly to the pharmaceutical industry, which will use it for omega-3 capsules and other health supplements. However, at a later stage, Carbiotech foresees developing and marketing these sorts of products itself.

Results: 

The project has led to the creation of a new company and a new product for the area. While it is still in an early phase, the plant is under construction and a production of 4 000kg of microalgae is foreseen for the first year (from just 1-2 kg of micro-algae collected). This is expected to produce 1000 litres of oil, commanding approximately €90 per litre. From year two onwards, an estimated 4000 litres of oil are expected to be produced; and Carbiotech has already signed a contract with a multinational for its entire production in the initial years.

Transferability: 

This kind of project is highly dependent on the availability of the right sort of microalgae and requires a high degree of technical capacity. In this case, the project promoter had significant experience in chemical engineering and marine related research, along with some management experience.

Lessons & contribution to CLLD objectives: 
  • Lessons: The FLAG points out the importance of ensuring that the project promoter has a very clear idea of what he or she is trying to do and possesses the technical know-how to do it. Moreover, given the project’s innovative nature (and therefore associated risk) as well as the high investment involved, it is extremely important to take the time to research the business idea in depth, taking advice and obtaining as much information as possible (permit requirements, validated trials, pricing, business model etc.) before launching activities.
  • Contribution to CLLD objectives: Adding value and promoting innovation at all stages of the supply chain of aquaculture products.

Funding

Total project cost €465 406
FLAG grant €200 000
  • EU contribution (EMFF): €170 000
  • Public contribution (regional): €30 000
Beneficiary contribution €265 406

Project information

Période de mise en oeuvre From aoû 2017 to oct 2018
Bassins
Type de zone
Theme

Beneficiary

Carbiotech, s.l.

Détails de contact

Contacts du GALPA

Mr. Guillermo Gonzalez Diez
+34 981 70 73 78
Spain
Publication date: 
18/06/2018
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