What milestones did the algae industry achieve in 2019? What foundations were set for success in 2020? Here are a few of the highlights during a busy year for those of us in the business of algae.
Algae Wins Recognition as Agriculture
2019 started out with a big development for the future of algae R&D and commercialization. For the first time, algae was recognized as a crop by the US Department of Agriculture in a new Farm Bill. Throughout the year officials at USDA have been busy setting up the support that the Farm Bill implemented and in 2020 we expect some exciting developments as algae farmers, product developers and others take advantage of the new programs.
More Companies Targeting the $320 Billion Algae Opportunity
In 2019 there was a rapid pace of commercial progress as companies look to the algae opportunity: Food giants Corbion and Nestle partnered on plant-based ingredients. Checkerspot raised $13M to apply synbio technologies to algae. UK-based retail giant Tesco called for an increased use of algae-based feeds in farmed salmon. Veramaris opened a $200M facility to make algae-based fish feeds, and Kanye West announced an algae-based shoe. And this is an addition to a projected $320 billion market for algae.
Federal Funding for Algae Research and Commercialization
Thanks to the support and hard work of ABO Members, the Department of Energy and other entities were able to offer funding for a number of projects at the cutting edge of this new industry. The funding was made possible by a Fiscal Year 2019 spending bill that provided an additional $44 million for algae and carbon utilization research — the highest funding level for algae research since the 2009 Recovery Act. 2020 funding levels are set to be even higher.
Ready to apply for funding opportunities that might support your own project? Check out our introduction to the process.
Federal Agencies Come Together
The support at the USDA is one example of a growing number of federal agencies that are examining the potential of algae. In March of 2019, 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, and ABO working closely with the new group to ensure they can coordinate with the industry’s leading commercial and research projects.
The Most Dynamic Algae Biomass Summit Yet
The 2019 Algae Biomass Summit in Orlando, Florida saw more connections made, breakthroughs announced and products revealed that ever. Read about just a few of the developments in our Dispatch from the Summit, and make plans to join the next Summit, September 8-11, 2020 on the beautiful campus of the University of California, San Diego.
Algae Makes Waves in the Classroom
ABO’s sister organization, the Algae Foundation, made news in 2019 by putting algae in classrooms across the country. The AF has established the Algae Technology Educational Consortium (ATEC), a project to build programs that can educate the future algae workforce. At the K-12 level, the Algae Academy has brought algae-focused lesson plans, live algae, laboratory supplies and educator support to over 70 schools nationwide.
For more advanced training, ATEC and the Algae foundation have built online courses, and programs for community colleges that can offer certifications for those building a career in algae cultivation, processing and product development. Find our more about these programs at ATEC’s website.
Throughout 2019 ABO’s Board of Directors and taken the lead coordinating this year’s success in policy, events and market development. As ABO enters 2020 we are well-positioned to continue the upward trajectory for the industry.
The upcoming year promises to be filled with exciting new product announcements, new projects and technology demonstrations, and even more voices joining Algae Nation.
Not a member of ABO? Join today and become a leader in one of the most exciting technology markets: algae!