Algae R&D Featured in Interagency Framework for Advancing the Bioeconomy

March, 27 / 2019

This month the federal Biomass Research and Development (BR&D) Board unveiled a multi-agency strategy to accelerate innovative biomass technologies for affordable biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower. Algae cultivation is prominently featured among the suite of technologies the effort is harnessing. 

The B&RD Board is an interagency collaborative which is co-chaired by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The new strategy document lays out a plan to address challenges in technology uncertainty; leverage government, academic, and industrial resources and capabilities; stimulate public-private partnerships; and generate new and useful technical information. 

The report identifies a number of areas specific to algae that can be addressed with improved R&D efforts, including:

  • Growing and harvesting highly productive algae at large scale
  • Fractionation and conversion of algae into fuels and products
  • Addressing the resources needed for the distribution and utilization of a national algal industry
  • Analytical assessments that can provide information on the improved sustainability profile of algae-based products

View the full report here (PDF).

ABO members are working closely with the new interagency group to ensure that they are able to coordinate with the industry’s leading research and commercialization efforts. 

NCMA Courses on Algae Culturing and Identification

March, 24 / 2019

The National Center for Marine Algae and Microbiota (NCMA) at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences will be offering two courses this year that may be of interest to ABO members looking to enhance their culturing and identification skills:

More information about application deadlines, course dates and fees is available in the links above. 

Make an Impression at the 2019 Algae Biomass Summit

March, 22 / 2019

It's the largest algae conference in the world!Advanced algae production is driving a wave of change, and is creating new opportunities around the world. From a revolution in food production, to new water treatment options, to climate change and environmental sustainability, leaders from around the globe are realizing that algae will a big part of a successful future.

The 2019 Algae Biomass Summit, organized by the non-profit Algae Biomass Organization has become the go-to event to discover the new innovations, products and services that are being made possible with a new generation of algae cultivation technologies. This year the Summit is being held in Orlando, Florida, September 16-19.

Exhibiting and sponsoring at the world’s largest gathering of algae professionals is the best way to tap into the networks that are making this revolution possible. The event’s exhibit hall is heavily trafficked, with receptions for networking and product demonstrations of the latest advances. Learn how to become an exhibitor here. 

For an even larger role, becoming a sponsor of the Summit can demonstrate a real dedication to leadership in this new industry. In addition to a higher visibility profile and a range of VIP benefits (including exhibit space), you will also be supporting the only algae event that recycles all proceeds into non-profit advocacy to advance algae R&D, market development and more. Learn about sponsorship opportunities here. 

If you are ready to connect with ABO’s network and make an impact with algae reach out to us today! We are happy to walk you through the options whether you are looking for an introduction to the industry, or taking your existing engagement with the algae industry to the next level.

Seeking Research or Material Deposit Collaboration? Look No Further Than Inside ABO Membership!

February, 26 / 2019

Bigelow Laboratory is well known for its leading algal culture collection and marine microbiology research. Did you know Bigelow also houses 1 of ONLY 3 US-based WIPO International Depositary Authority facilities approved for patent procedure under the Budapest Treaty?

By Mike Lomas, NCMA Director, Senior Research Scientist, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

Bigelow LaboratoryBigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is a world-renowned oceanographic research institution that has materially contributed to what is known about the global ocean for the past four decades. Bigelow currently provides  academic, industrial, and government partners with the same services used by its scientists, to help advance research, enhance discoveries, and find solutions to today’s complex problems. The Lab has six Core Facilities that provide a range of services to individual clients who benefit from its expertise, equipment, and entrepreneurial spirit. In addition, for those interested in working directly in a research-based environment, Bigelow offers its Industrial Collaboration Laboratory and Pilot-Scale Greenhouse for entrepreneurial activities.

Did you know that one of Bigelow’s Core Facilities, the National Center for Marine Algae and Microbiota (NCMA), offers a Private Deposit service for biological material and houses 1 of ONLY 3 US-based World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) International Depositary Authority facilities approved for patent procedure under the Budapest Treaty?

Whether one needs to cryopreserve its biological material for the purpose of patent procedure or would simply prefer a secure backup option outside of its existing lab, Bigelow possesses a dedicated cryopreservation and culturing facility and highly experienced staff ready and willing to meet a Depositor’s needs. The Lab currently accepts a wide range of biological material, e.g., algae, microbes, and terrestrial plant tissue and seed, and has unmatched experience working with marine microorganisms.

PATENT DEPOSIT.  WIPO designated Bigelow’s NCMA as an International Depositary Authority for the purpose of patent procedure under the Budapest Treaty in 2013. As mentioned, Bigelow currently accepts terrestrial plant tissue and plant seed, microbes (non-pathogenic bacteria, non-parasitic protozoa, archaea), and algae (unicellular and multicellular). Deposits can be made directly for this purpose or readily transferred from a Depositor’s private deposit, as applicable, depending upon the status of the Depositor’s IP in development.  The NCMA provides viability tests after the initial deposit and handles all deposit distribution once filed patents are awarded. 

PRIVATE DEPOSIT. As mentioned, the NCMA also accepts biological material into its Private Deposit collection. In this scenario, Depositors typically choose to deposit and cryopreserve (or perpetually culture) their material for off-site storage, risk management, and curation of their valuable biological strains. If a Depositor’s biological material is not cryopreserved, NCMA can either work with them to develop appropriate cryopreservation protocols (NCMA has been cryopreserving algae since 1992 and has~1600 of its own strains cryopreserved) or maintain their strains in liquid medium on a long-term basis. All deposits are completely confidential and accessible only to the Depositor through Bigelow’s secure web-based platform.

About Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

Bigelow Laboratory’s mission is to investigate the microbial drivers of global ocean processes through basic and applied research, education, and enterprise. What we are learning will be essential to the conservation and responsible use of the ocean and the many valuable services it provides.

Please contact us at jbrandeis@bigelow.org or (415) 203 8231 for more information or to discuss research or deposit collaboration.

Note: This is a guest post for the ABO blog. The views and opinions expressed by the author(s) are theirs alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by the Algae Biomass Organization

New USDA Program Supports Innovation in Agriculture

February, 25 / 2019

ABO members are among a new generation of innovators that are bringing solutions to global challenges like food production, water use and climate change. As these innovators garner more attention, Congress has just begun to develop more programs that can give their efforts a boost. 

One that will be of interest to algae cultivators, product developers and researchers is the Agriculture Advanced Research and Development Authority (AGARDA), a new program created in the 2019 Farm Bill that will support innovations in food and agriculture.

Some of AGARDA’s objectives will include:

  • early-stage research for innovations with application to agriculture products
  • prototype testing
  • assistance with product approval, licensure, and clearance
  • assistance with the manufacturing and commercialization of products
  • support R&D for plant pest countermeasures and veterinary countermeasures. 

AGARDA is modeled after programs at the Department of Energy that have had great success supporting cutting-edge developments before they are commercially successful: the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Biomedical Advanced R&D Agency (BARDA), and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

Any ABO member with an interest in pushing the envelope when it comes to innovating in agriculture should keep an eye on how AGARDA gets off the ground in the coming months. 

Check out this blog post at K&L Gates for more information.

ABO Bids Farewell to Executive Director Dr. Matt Carr

February, 20 / 2019

He leaves ABO with a strong legacy of industry diversification and policy wins

Dr. Matt Carr, Executive Director of the Algae Biomass Organization since 2014, has announced that he will be leaving the organization at the end of March to return to academia.

The Board of Directors will soon begin the process of recruiting a new Executive Director. In the meantime, ABO will continue its work advocating for research and development funding, opening markets for a wide range of algae products, and elevating the work of all ABO members.

During his tenure Matt guided ABO, and the algae industry at large, through remarkable changes and on to unprecedented success. In a note to ABO members, Mark Allen, Vice President of Integrated Carbon Solutions at Accelergy Corporation and Chair of ABO’s Board of Directors, commented:

“Over the past five years Matt lead ABO through a significant diversification from its origins in algae for biofuels to a much broader universe of opportunity for algae in food and feed, nutrition and health, chemicals and materials, biofertilizers, energy, and carbon capture and utilization.

“On the policy front he has been a tireless advocate on Capitol Hill and with Federal agencies making the case for annual appropriations on the order of $40 million that flowed into important research and projects across the algae value chain to the benefit of ABO members and the industry. He spearheaded important legislative wins in carbon capture and utilization and landmark accomplishments in the 2018 Agriculture Bill that will benefit ABO members and the algae industry for decades to come.

“These accomplishments and much more are reflected in the quality and diversity of the annual ABO Summit, the world’s leading algae gathering and celebration of algae scientists, entrepreneurs, researchers, investors, government officials, and Fortune 500 companies that are adopting algae into their products and operations. Matt has been the greatest algae enthusiast of all.”

An Accomplished Tenure, and a Foundation for the Future

Matt’s transformation of the ABO into an organization representing the full universe of opportunities made possible by advanced algae cultivation has led to remarkable membership growth and policy success.

ABO’s membership now includes five of the largest domestic algae producers. New corporate members that have joined over the past year represent some of the most significant points in the algae value chain. These include providers of food and nutrition products, advanced engineering firms, providers of algae-based water treatment systems, laboratory systems and automation, biofuels and more.

The growth and diversity of the ABO community was critical in propelling a number of remarkable policy wins that will accelerate the development of algae technology and commercialization, including:

  • An active and strong bipartisan Congressional Algae Caucus – this group of lawmakers has become an active advocate for annual appropriations that support important research and projects across the algae value chain to the benefit of ABO members and the industry. These funds are expected to exceed $40 million in 2019.
  • An engaged Interagency Algae Working Group – a group coordinating federal algae R&D efforts that includes the Departments of Commerce, Energy, Agriculture, Heath and Human Services, and the National Science Foundation, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • A transformation of carbon capture policy – An update to the 45Q tax credit will allow algae and other biological forms of carbon capture utilization to take advantage of this valuable incentive for the first time
  • A Farm Bill that supports algae farming provisions in the latest Farm Bill that will assist the algae industry include a new Algae Agriculture Research Program at USDA, and language directing the Department to develop crop insurance tools for algae production – with the potential to deliver millions of dollars of value annually to the algae industry.
  • The launch of the Future of Algae for Food and Feed Initiative – With the launch of the Future of Algae for Food and Feed (FAFF) initiative, a huge step was taken toward addressing barriers to widespread adoption of algae food and feed ingredients. The FAFF also laid the groundwork for new partners – and new funding streams – for this important work.
  • A successful Algae Biomass Summit, with a strong program shaping up for 2019 in Orlando – The Algae Biomass Summit has become the most important algae industry event. The 2018 Summit featured its strongest business program to date, including a new Products & Markets Track, the Algae Product Showcase, an algae-focused menu, and attracted nearly 200 first-time attendees. The 2019 Summit is shaping up to be even better.

“We view ABO’s mission to advance algae technologies and products as a marathon that is run in a series of sprints. Matt has given us an incredible five years, and as he passes the baton to a new era of leadership we find ourselves more than ready for the next stage of the race,” said Allen.

The Board of Directors expresses its gratitude to Matt for his years of service. We will miss Matt, but know he will continue to make a great impact for society and the planet through educating the next generation of leaders.

Become an ABO Intern!

January, 30 / 2019

Students – Are you interested in doing more for your industry while completing your degree? Help define the algae sector of today and shape the industry of tomorrow as an Algae Biomass Organization volunteer virtual intern.

Internships of 8-12 weeks are available and are completely online. Interns serve a vital role by assisting ABO with industry and policy research, social media and communications. Interns leave their experience with a new understanding of the interconnections between research, industry, government and policy, along with exciting new insights and connections. 

Individuals interested in the ABO volunteer virtual internship program should send a brief cover letter and CV or resume to Barb Scheevel, bscheevel@algaebiomass.org.

$500 Student Travel Grants to the 2019 Algae Biomass Summit

January, 25 / 2019

Get your abstracts for the 2019 Algae Biomass Summit ready! The Algae Foundation has announced that it is offering $500 travel grants to attend the 13th Annual Algae Biomass Summit in Orlando, Florida, from September 16-19, 2019.

More information on the Mary Rosenthal Student Travel Grant can be found here.

The priority deadline for abstract submission is January 31, 2019, although abstracts will be considered past that point.

When you submit your 2019 Algae Biomass Summit Abstract, please select “Yes” at the end of the application to receive more information about the Student Travel Grant!

To qualify students must meet the following criteria:

  • Be an ABO Member ($75 for Students);
  • Be a high school, undergraduate, graduate student or pre-doctoral student or
  • Be a PhD with a post-doctoral appointment and is currently involved in a full-time academic research program for no longer than 2 years.
  • Submit an abstract to present a poster or oral presentation at ABS 2018 and be the presenting author of the abstract. 
  • Provide a suggested budget to attend the Summit
  • Provide a current letter of recommendation for ABS 2019 from an academic advisor.

Please contact Philip Pienkos at philip.pienkos@nrel.gov for more information.

Bring an Algae Curriculum to Your School!

January, 24 / 2019

The Algae Academy is currently accepting applications for their Spring rollout of their K-12 Algae Curriculum! Please share the application link with any educators you know, applications are due February 1st. Awarded teachers will receive 5-days of algae-focused lesson plans, live algae, laboratory supplies and educator support throughout the program…free of charge!

Apply here

Since 2015, the Algae Academy curriculum has been executed in over 70 schools nationwide serving students in 2nd-12th grade. We are kicking off the new year by selecting 50 new teachers to participate in our Algae Academy 2019 Spring Session in March. To apply for an Algae Academy kit, please complete the linked application and submit to the selection committee by February 1, 2019. Awarded teachers will be notified by February 8th and kits will be delivered one week prior to the module start. Please contact Marissa Nalley at mnalley@thealgaefoundation.org with any questions.

The Algae Academy is an initiative of The Algae Foundation, a national 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to promote the power of algae to transform human society and the environment upon which it depends. The Foundation is committed to partnering with teachers and developing programming that meet the new Next Generation Science Standards in an exciting and innovative way to inspire students and their families, as well as teachers and their teams. Please visit our website, thealgaefoundation.org.

How One Algae Company Scaled Up With Commercial Automation

January, 22 / 2019

By Amir Kaufman, COO and co-founder, Wonderlogix

Biotech is full of innovative startups, but most stumble with industrialization as they begin to scale. Here’s how one company succeeded in scaling up with commercial automation.

As they move from the “hands-on” approach of their founders to full automation, biotech companies often struggle.  They fear a loss of control through use of third-party automation engineers, a threat to IP as these contracted engineers move within the industry, and the difficult cultural change of transitioning from an idea-driven enterprise to one of process-driven automation and industrialization.  Many companies falter during this period. But the right technology partner can offer solutions to address all these challenges.

AlgaeMor’s Move to Commercial Scale Automation

With the proven nutritional value of Spirulina, it would have seemed that this particular strain of algae would have had an immediate market.  But inherent challenges, including taste and smell characteristics, limited its impact and relegated it to pill form as a work-around. Enter AlgaeMor, whose innovative quick freeze process allows it to be sold as fresh while retaining its nutritional value by avoiding heating and drying.  

But as groundbreaking as this process was, automation remained elusive due to the product’s unique characteristics and sensitive nature. The requirement of low sheer equipment and blast freezers meant that process control would have to be precise. AlgaeMor’s co-founder, Baruch Dach, worked in vain for over three months with automation engineers to develop and implement a working process control strategy. With frustration and cost rising, he turned to the WonderLogix platform for a solution.

Algaetech Innovation Meets Automation Innovation

No stranger to innovation, AlgaeMor recognized WonderLogix’s unique approach to automation control. Using Object-Oriented Design principles, the WonderLogix platform allows usersin this case, the life scientists who work directly with the productto define the components of the system. These components allow the use of natural language and the grouping of components into classes where mass changes can be achieved with a single change to inputs. With specified inputs and outputs, users can then specify the logical relationships between components in plain English.  

AlgaeMor was able to use WonderLogix to model their entire production process. By developing a simulated model to test various scenarios, the scientists who understand their process best were able to retain complete control. The WonderLogix platform allowed the AlgaeMor life scientists to design, develop, and deploy an optimized process control strategy, as well as make changes as needed to their process criteria: environmental conditions, water quality, contaminating agents and strain specific constraints.

By using the WonderLogix platform, AlgaeMor was able to achieve in eight hours what had eluded them in the previous three months. In addition to the natural language capability, the platform also generates documentation automatically. It allows for change control and acts as the engineering-grade production manual, which also serves as the record for Intellectual Property and as a POC roadmap for potential investors. And once the model is finalized, documented and accepted, PLC code is generated automatically.

AlgaeMor Moves Forward with Process Design Control

By utilizing the WonderLogix platform, AlgaeMor was able to address the challenges facing many biotech companies today. Process design control was shifted from third-party automation engineers directly to the life scientists at AlgaeMor. And Intellectual Property was better shielded by keeping the design in-house.

Finally, what was once an operation run on ideas and a notebook, was moved to a documented, agile process that allowed AlgaeMor to scale and grow with far less cost and shorter time to market for their products.

About WonderLogix

WonderLogix is disrupting the world of industrial automation. Using our patented technology, anyone can design and program control systems, in plain English—no coding or engineering knowledge required. Our clients get to market 3x faster than their competition.

Please contact us for more info or to book a demo.

Note: This is a guest post for the ABO blog. The views and opinions expressed by the author(s) are theirs alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by the Algae Biomass Organization