BASF Venture Capital invests in seaweed farmer Sea6 Energy

Aqua-Spark and BASF invested in Sea6’s Series B, giving Tata Capital Innovations Fund a partial exit.

BASF Venture Capital has participated in the Series B funding round for Sea6 Energy, an Indian company involved in the production and processing of tropical red seaweed.

Also participating in the Series B was Aqua-Spark, a Dutch investment fund focused on aquaculture, which joined existing investors including Tata Capital Innovations Fund, with the latter selling down part of its stake in the process. The Series B round closed on 1,402 million rupees ($17.6 million; €17.7 million).

Sea6 Energy is headquartered in Bangalore, India, and has established a wholly-owned subsidiary in Indonesia to carry out commercial seaweed farming. It also operates plants in Tuticorin, India, to process red seaweed for varying applications, including for use as biostimulants in agriculture and shrimp farming to reduce stress and increase disease resistance.

The firm is able to carry out at least six harvests a year when conditions are suitable, and has developed a proprietary process that increases red seaweed’s shelf life from two days to up to 60 days.

In a statement, BASF Venture Capital said that in 2019 nearly 35 million tons of seaweed was produced worldwide, about half of which was red seaweed, and that the market volume for seaweed products was almost $17 billion in 2020.

It added that commercial offshore cultivation on a large scale is complex and must be able to withstand adverse weather conditions – and that Sea6 Energy had been able to adapt its cultivation methods to deeper waters.

Markus Solibieda, managing director of BASF Venture Capital, said: “Sea6 Energy convinced us with its integrated business model. With its extensive experience in the field of biotechnology, the team has created very good upstream conditions for cultivating red seaweed as biomass on a large scale while also demonstrating success downstream through its biorefinery. This opens up opportunities for transitioning traditionally crude-dependent industries such as the chemical industry to renewable feedstocks.”

Aqua-Spark managing partners Mike Velings and Amy Novogratz described Sea6’s cultivation technology as a “game-changer” in a statement, saying would allow for a range of red seaweed applications on a commercial scale.