Reflecting on 2021
Happy New Year from Macro Oceans
Happy New Year from Macro Oceans!
This is going to be a busy year for Macro Oceans - expanding the team, deepening relationships with our customers, building our pilot facility to scale our technology - the list is never ending! But before I dive into 2022, I wanted to pause and reflect on what I’ve learned this past year whilst building Macro Oceans.
The Seaweed Industry
Emerging Ecosystem: to me 2021 felt like the year when seaweed entered the mainstream consciousness as a plastic-slaying, climate savior. Undoubtedly, seaweed is an ultra-sustainable crop and a potent climate solution. But realizing its full potential in the northern hemisphere requires us to build a whole new seaweed industry. Luckily, there are now teams working on breakthroughs all along the value chain. There are teams developing technologies in direct seeding, offshore growing, mechanical harvesting and bioprocessing. There are teams developing fantastic carbon-negative products that delight customers. And there is now the capital to fund, build and launch these innovations. In many ways, this vibrant emerging ecosystem is the story of 2021.
Growing Supply: Over the past few months we’ve had numerous inbound enquiries from growers who want to put gear in the water and partner with Macro Oceans to supply kelp. This is exciting because it supports our view that there is the capacity and focus with the right expertise, equipment and capital, to produce a lot more kelp in the coming years to support large-scale biorefining.
Shifting regulators: From permitting to nurseries, I’ve noticed greater interest this year from regulators to support the nascent North American seaweed industry. We need better, more rigorous, scientific regulations if we are to rapidly and sustainably scale up seaweed production.
Biotech Company Building
Science is not linear: you can plan experiments precisely and execute perfectly, but sometimes the results will surprise you. For example, our initial pathway to purified polysaccharides was a dead-end - the technique which we thought would be elegant and efficient, turned out not to work. So in order to keep moving fast, we formulated two more hypotheses, devised quick and inexpensive ways to test them, and then generated the data to identify the best scalable purification technique.
Science focused on technology: science is often about exploration - seeking to know the unknown. But science in service of technology is a more focused pursuit. At Macro Oceans our research is about translating, combining, and applying cutting edge science to reimagine seaweed biorefining from first principles. How can we eliminate the need for drying or freezing? How can we eliminate expensive and costly sequential processing? We are so laser focused on building scalable technology that our goal is not understanding exactly how it works, but proving that it can work!
A shameless plug: we’re building out our team, so if you know of any great chemical engineers with bioprocessing experience, send them my way!
It’s been great riding this wave so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing and learning much more in 2022.
Wishing you all a great start to the new year - stay healthy and keep kelpy!