The objective of the project is to improve the economic opportunities along the seaweed supply chain; this will be achieved at the niche market level by developing innovative ways the industry can sustainably expand through diversifying species use, adding value through process optimisation, identifying opportunities for small to medium scale cultivation, identifying value added products and services. In addition, this project will develop opportunities and promote international markets. The sustainable management and regulation of both harvesting and cultivating the raw product will also be included.
Aquaculture is a growing and increasingly important sector which helps to underpin sustainable economic growth in rural and coastal communities, especially in remote maritime northern periphery areas. Seaweed production and harvesting has a long history, primarily as a food source, but, also over the last two centuries, seaweed has been used in a range of products such as potash, methane, acetone and butanol. More recently, research has been initiated to understand the impact and feasibility of the large-scale cultivation of seaweed for biofuels and as a waste water treatment mechanism. Seaweed extracts are now commonly used in a range of different products, often in niche markets, including animal feed, fertilisers, artisan gin production and beauty products. There are many SMEs in the northern periphery region who make and sell seaweed-based products. These companies are fragmented internationally, with markets disparately and unevenly developed across the region. Seaweed also has an important ecological role in the cultural and coastal ecosystems in the northern Atlantic. A key aim is to enable the transfer and development of models and solutions, linking the creative sectors and SMEs to promote innovation and to encourage participation of underrepresented groups, e.g. as young women, in innovative sectors.