Evonik part of investors consortium providing $3m to support beta-glucan production from algae.
EVONIK Industries announced April 28 that it is investing in the technology start-up Algal Scientific Corp. in Northville, Mich.
Evonik is part of an investors consortium that is investing more than $3 million in a Series A financing round.
Under the trade name Algamune, Algal Scientific markets 1,3-beta-glucan, a polysaccharide that strengthens the immune response. It is used as an additive in animal feeds and as a nutritional supplement as well as in pharmaceutical formulations (Feedstuffs, Jan. 27).
According to the announcement, this is the first time it has been possible to obtain beta-glucan from algae on an industrial scale. Algal Scientific has developed a new technology for this purpose and is currently in the process of starting up the first commercial production plant in Michigan.
Beta-glucan is usually extracted from grain or produced using yeasts or fungi. Algal Scientific said its new biotechnological process needs fewer production steps while at the same time generating significantly higher yields.
In addition to the production technology, Evonik said the use of beta-glucan in a wide variety of animal feed applications is of particular interest to the company. The immune-stimulating effect of beta-glucan results in healthier animals and efficient growth, thus contributing to resource-efficient nutrition of the global population. Beta-glucan is suitable for pigs, poultry and ruminants as well as for aquaculture production.
Algal Scientific "contributes toward sustainable animal nutrition," said Dr. Bernhard Mohr, head of Evonik Venture Capital. "In view of the growing global population and the subsequent increasing demand for animal protein, this is an interesting market with attractive growth potential."
"We are very pleased that Evonik is joining us as a strategic partner," Geoff Horst, chief executive officer of Algal Scientific, said. "We have been able to attract a strong group of investors; this allows us to advance commercial production and our business."
In addition to Evonik, others in the consortium are the U.S. venture capital firms Formation 8 of California, Independence Equity of Illinois and Envy Capital of Michigan, as well as regional funds and business development companies promoting the establishment and development of attractive companies in Michigan.
Within its venture capital activities, Evonik plans to invest in promising start-ups with breakthrough technologies and leading specialist venture capital funds. These investments will focus on Europe, the U.S. and Asia.
Evonik is a global leader in specialty chemicals and is active in more than 100 countries around the world. It generated sales of around 12.9 billion euros in fiscal 2013 and has more than 33,500 employees.
Algal Scientific was formed in 2009 after winning the inaugural DTE Clean Energy Competition hosted by the University of Michigan and DTE Energy. Algal Scientific recently expanded into a new production facility in Northville from its first headquarters at the Michigan Life Science & Innovation Center.