[UK] North East marine biologist Dr Craig Rose plans to make seaweed a food of the future thanks to a £25,000 start-up loan.
The enterprising marine expert has launched Seaweed & Co, a firm offering seaweed ingredients for the food and nutrition industries, after securing a Virgin StartUp loan as well as assistance from TEDCO Business Support’s Start & Grow programme.
The business using high quality seaweed, sustainably wild-harvested in the Scottish Outer Hebrides. The business has been launched by Dr Craig Rose, who has lived and worked in the North East since moving from his native Leeds to attend Newcastle University over 15 years ago.
Based in North Shields, Seaweed & Co is now looking to capitalise on the growing popularity of seaweed as a superfood ingredient, and boost sales within the UK and international food and nutrition industries.
Dr Rose said: “Although a central ingredient in the diet of Asian countries for millennia, seaweed is a forgotten food in the West, and has only recently been re-discovered for it’s extraordinary nutritional benefits.
“I was always aware of the positive impact seaweed can have on health, and as a sustainable natural resource through my training as a marine biologist.
“Initially, my interest for seaweed developed whilst managing a £3.7m commercial R&D project to commercialise seaweed as a biofuel.
“At this time, the seaweed for food industry was very small, and the nutritional benefits were still very much in the research phase, but I recognised a huge opportunity to grow this market.
“Now, seaweed is being used widely to benefit many products including breads, biscuits, sauces, food supplements and many more.”
Seaweed contains all the vitamin groups and minerals, and can be used as a natural flavour enhancer to replace salt in the food manufacturing process.
Even a tiny amount packs a strong nutritional punch and research has suggested it can help with weight management, and due to its natural iodine levels, can contribute to normal cognitive function and metabolism.
Dr Rose said: “The market for seaweed in the UK is still relatively new but thanks to support from high profile figures such as Jamie Oliver, who champions the benefits of adding more seaweed to your diet extensively in his new Superfood TV show, seaweed has huge potential for growth.
“Thanks to the loan from Virgin StartUp and guidance of TEDCO Business Support, we are on track for a successful first year and have three UK distributors on board to sell our product to the food and nutrition industry.
“Food containing Seaweed & Co. sourced seaweed is now stocked in all of the major UK supermarkets.”
Confidence in the business is strong and Dr Rose received one of the highest sums from Virgin StartUp – £25,000.
Virgin StartUp, a not-for-profit organisation and part of the Virgin Group, offers low-cost business loans to new enterprises in the UK.
The loan has been used to fund a highly innovative system for processing the seaweed in Scotland to produce larger volumes of high quality seaweed through a more gentle and scalable approach.
The firm is also working in partnership with Durham University on a research project to develop sources of seaweed production near Lynemouth.
The scheme is researching ways to cultivate quality seaweed in tanks on land in a highly sustainable way. Although still in its early stages, the highly innovative project could see seaweed grown and harvested on land in a new market opportunity for the North East in the not to distant future.
Dr Rose said: “Our order book is looking strong for the next 12 months and we are currently working with Newcastle University to develop more seaweed based products for the health and nutrition industry.”
Seaweed & Co. received support through the Start and Grow programme, delivered by TEDCO Business Support in the North East.
Bill Hartshorne, business advisor at TEDCO Business Support added: “Seaweed & Co. is a very exciting business and one with a successful future ahead of it.
“I worked with Dr Rose extensively to fine tune his business plan and help get the business investment ready via the Start & Grow programme and his entrepreneurial focus and attitude mean Seaweed & Co. is most definitely a business to watch. I wish him every success.”
Photo: Dr Craig Rose who has launched Seaweed & Co with Bill Hartshorne, TEDCO Business Advisor
View original article at: Doctor launches seaweed business in North Shields with £25,000 Virgin StartUp loan