Seaweed, a Growing Opportunity: Pre-Summit Interview with Maxime Penning, Head of Processing & BiotechnologyKelp Blue

We caught up with Maxime ahead of her panel ‘Seaweed & Algae Commercialisation: Food, Feed & Biorefining‘ at the inaugural Blue Food Innovation Summit to find out why interest in seaweed production, processing and utilisation has grown exponentially in recent years.

Maxime is Head of Processing & Biotechnology at Kelp Blue, who plant kelp forests around the world to boost the health of the oceans and lock away carbon, harvesting the canopy only for sustainable agri-foods, fertiliser, pharmaceuticals and textiles.

Why is seaweed exciting right now?Maxime, Kelp Blue

Seaweed has been used by costal communities for thousands of years, but now, with the advent of new extraction technologies the applications of seaweed are enormous. And we have just scratched the surface of what’s possible to produce with seaweed. The opportunity of new discoveries is even bigger.

We are also all aware that we need more sustainable resources and we need to drawdown the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere fast! Nowadays the technology to scale seaweed production is progressing , which makes large scale seaweed cultivation perfect for these ambitions. The arising economy of scale will also unleash the potential to produce even more products, that are not economically viable yet.

Are there any new technologies or projects on your radar that our audience should be aware of?

Harnessing the anti-cancerous properties of seaweed components for industrial application, could revolutionise the industry.

There has been similar excitement and hype around the potential of seaweed for many years, what is different now and what new commercial opportunities have arisen?

The amount of entrepreneurs innovating with seaweed and for the seaweed industries. It’s the law of big numbers, we will be seeing much more success now than ever in the past. And success breeds success.

What is the investment landscape like currently for seaweed and algae production, harvesting and processing?

There are some impact investors who claim to invest in climate positive solutions but still exclusively focus on the financial returns and then there are some fabulous investors who truly understand the sector, the risks and who know how to value the additional returns (environmental impact, social impact) properly. We need to be seeing more of these types of investors.

It is fantastic to have you involved with the first Blue Food Innovation Summit – who are you excited to meet at the conference?

Anyone who has a novel use for seaweed! And others who share our passion for innovation.

Maxime will be joined on her Seaweed Commercialisation panel by speakers from WWF, Lloyd’s Register Foundation, Ocean Rainforest and Oceanium. View the agenda to discover more.