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MiAlgae - the future of agricultural feed is whiskey?

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by Startacus Admin

MiAlgae - The lowdown on the innovative microalgal production company that's aiming to revolutionize the global livestock feed industry...via whiskey distillation.

mialgae logoFishmeal is traded by the millions of tonnes annually. It is a commodity valuable in its ubiquity. For the purposes of this article, the important product that uses fishmeal is livestock and aquaculture (fish) feed as a cheap source of protein.

The problem with fishmeal - other than the offal, blood, and bones - is that its production is extraordinarily bad on two counts. First, the environmental damage caused by fishermen using dragnets and adding to overfishing, and the air pollution from the factories producing fishmeal. Second, and don’t forget that this is 2018, slavery.

Investigations into the industry have found that many people working on these fishing boats are, either effectively or whiskeyactually, slaves. Add to this that only 42% of world fishmeal factories adhere to the IFFO’s standards for production, and it’s crystal clear that things need to change. Enter, whiskey.

We all enjoy whiskey. Some of us enjoy whiskey a little too much! But none of us, probably, thought that whiskey could be used to create food for livestock. And...okay, technically it can’t. But co-products from the whiskey distillation process can be used to grow microalgae rich in omegas and proteins, vital for livestock and aquaculture feed.

And this is exactly what Douglas Martin is doing with MiAlgae, a startup he launched in 2015 as a University of Edinburgh student.

The idea of MiAlgae is simple and massively ambitious. The startup aims to eliminate the livestock and aquaculture industries’ dependence on fishmeal, replacing it instead with high quality, environmentally-friendly microalgae products. MiAlgae not only produces a product that is good for the environment, but it does so with a circular economy production methodology to reduce costs and eventually become a zero-waste business.

mialgae screenMiAlgae has had a string of successes recently. In 2017, Martin received a ‘Smart: Scotland’ grant, progressed through the Climate-KIC Accelerator programme, successfully took part in both ‘Scottish EDGE: Young EDGE’ and Innovate UK, and was named Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

More recently, MiAlgae has raised £500k in seed investment from Equity Gap, the Scottish Investment Bank, and the University of Edinburgh’s venture fund Old College Capital. This funding will allow MiAlgae to set up production inside a whiskey distillery. Lastly, Martin pitched at the final of the 2018 Scottish EDGE competition, giving him a chance of another £100k funding for MiAlgae. The awards ceremony will be held on 14 June.

It probably goes without saying, after all this, that MiAlgae is a startup both worthy and capable of huge success.

If you liked this agri related startup related article you might want to read up on:

Mothive - The crop monitoring startup that's on a mission to help high value fruit and veg farmers

The Small Robot Company - The lowdown on the agri-tech startup that's using robotics and AI to innovate the farming industry through small robots

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Published on: 16th June 2018

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