NewFish and Cawthron Institute’s Strategic Partnership to Commercialise Microalgae Protein Potential

From the Outset: Daisy Lab by Melissa Grey from DMG Digital Advertising

The Start of a multi-year partnership for R&D of high quality non-animal proteins from microalgae.

The following includes excerpts from NewFish and  Cawthron Institute Statement

The partnership combines Cawthron’s expertise in seaweed and microalgae with NewFish’s innovation and commercialization capabilities. The partnership will focus on shared research and the development of high-quality non-animal proteins from microalgae.

Cawthron has over 100 years of science history, and a team of nearly 300 people from more than 30 countries, headquartered in Nelson. The research institute is also home to the nationally significant Culture Collection of 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. 

The announcement marks the start of a multi-year partnership  aims to create a blue economy with a healthy natural environment as the ultimate ambition.

19 January 2023

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What inspired the creation of Daisy Lab?

“Daisy Lab is probably a product of frustration rather than inspiration. Both Nikki and I (Irina) were frustrated with the status quo in the dairy industry and saw precision fermentation as a better solution.”

What is precision fermentation?

“Precision fermentation involves giving microbes extra genetic instructions to produce desired compounds, such as dairy-identical proteins, in controlled conditions.”

What is Daisy Lab's main focus?

“Our focus is on making dairy-identical proteins without cows using microbes through precision fermentation.”

What were the initial challenges Daisy Lab faced?

“Early on, we faced challenges like securing contracts with universities, finding suitable students, and deciding on the best organisms for our research.”

What backgrounds do the founders of Daisy Lab come from?

“My background is in business consulting and bioinformatics, which, combined with Nikki’s qualifications and expertise in Molecular biology, Microbiology, Nanopore and Illumina sequencing – brings a diverse skill set to Daisy Lab.”

 

What makes developing dairy-identical proteins using microbes challenging?

“The challenges include selecting the right microbes, ensuring the genetic instructions are correctly incorporated, and overcoming protein processing limitations.”

How does Daisy Lab's technology compare to other alternatives in the market?

“While direct comparisons are challenging, we’ve made significant progress in scaling yields and developing a clean fermentation process that simplifies downstream processing.”

How does Daisy Lab ensure product quality and consistency?

“We replicate the same processes to ensure consistency, with our end-to-end processing showing consistent results.”

What is Daisy Lab's strategy for market integration?

“Our strategy involves education, collaboration, and showcasing our products’ environmental and ethical benefits to appeal to consumers and partners.”

How does Daisy Lab plan to scale up and expand its market reach?

“Scaling up is challenging, but we plan to leverage our novel qualities, such as reduced emissions and ethical production, to engage the market effectively.”

What is the anticipated timeline for Daisy Lab's market entry?

“We anticipate market entry through IP partnerships within 18 to 24 months, depending on our development progress and the establishment of a pilot plant.”

How has Outset Ventures supported Daisy Lab?

“Outset Ventures has been instrumental, especially in facilitating the expansion of our lab space, which significantly accelerated our R&D efforts.”

What makes Daisy Lab an attractive investment opportunity?

“Daisy Lab offers solid technology, a proven track record, capital efficiency, and significant market potential in sustainable food production.”

What are Daisy Lab's short-term and long-term objectives?

“In the short term, we’re focusing on product development and fundraising. Long-term, we aim to scale our technology for broader market distribution.”

How does Daisy Lab maintain a competitive edge?

“We maintain our edge by continuously innovating, focusing on capital efficiency, and quickly adapting to market and technological advancements.”

What has been the most rewarding experience for you at Daisy Lab?

“Reflecting on our journey and realizing the significant impact we’ve managed to achieve has been incredibly rewarding for me personally.”

What advice would you offer to aspiring entrepreneurs in tech or sustainability?

“My advice is to pursue your passion for the end goal. This passion will guide you through challenges and help you exceed expectations.”