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Promoting and supporting Irish Seaweed Developers

Summary: 

A multi-faceted approach to support and develop the Irish Seaweed developers, from education and up-skilling to sales and marketing through a dedicated on-line platform. Redrose Developments sells products through the www.wildatlanticseagarden.com platform, is working with NUIG to develop new methods of cultivating high value sea-plants and is working the Marine Institute to deliver Ocean Science to primary schools children and aiming to facilitate the delivery of QQI qualifications in aquaculture.

Stakeholder typology: 
Micro-sized business (headcount less than 10)
Lead Partner: 
Udaras, Belmullet, County Mayo, Ireland
Other partner(s) : 

NUIG - National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland

Background: 

The CEO of Redrose Developments has a rich and varied history of innovation and product development, her father left as an economic migrant, her wider family connections are still leaving their homeland in search of opportunities. She firmly believes that opportunities can be created locally. There is global acknowledgement of the quality of Irish seaweeds, not least attributed to the purity and quality of the waters off the stunning coastline. The rich and varied nature of the aquatic plants offer extensive potential in terms of extracts, compounds, bio-mass and raw materials.

Products as varied as seaweed scones to horse-feed supplements, from cosmetic to pharmaceutical applications, the range and diversity of vegetation under our coastline and indeed on the shoreline, is as rich, or maybe more so, than the plants on land. The nutritional value of plants has been extensively documented and with the impending protein shortage predicted as the population continues to rise the contribution that could be made from sea-vegetables would be invaluable. ‘Seaweed: An alternative protein
source’ October 12, 2012 Teagasc “The world seaweed Industry is estimated to be worth US$ 5.5 – 6 billion annually, with US$ 5 billion being generated from products destined for human consumption, the remainder being generated from hydrocolloids and miscellaneous products. The global seaweed industry uses 7.5 – 8 million tonnes of wet seaweed annually (Source FAO). Over 90% of the seaweed used is cultivated; the rest is wild -harvested. While it is reported that commercial seaweed harvesting takes place in 35 countries worldwide, China and Japan are the main centres of world seaweed activity; because demand far outstrips supply, China now imports seaweed from Korea. Seaweed is an enormously versatile natural resource and has found a place in human cuisine going back centuries.

Nowadays seaweeds are used not just for human food, but in a variety of advanced applications. Food supplements, fertilizers, cosmetics and medicines are now produced from seaweeds, and it is these specialisations that hold the greatest opportunity for those involved in the seaweed industry here in Ireland.” A Market Analysis towards the Further Development of Seaweed Aquaculture in Ireland. Published by BIM; principle authors being: Máirtín Walsh, Lucy Watson, BIM 2013. Through a comprehensive strategy of aligning with agencies and developers Redrose will seek to inform and education our young people to work with this valuable resource creating products that will be in global demand.

Objectives: 

Redrose Developments Ltd is a private company which aims to create jobs and opportunities within the remote coastal region of North West Mayo through commercialising seaweed. This area has challenges, not least in terms of infrastructure and connectivity that leads many young people to leave their beautiful homeland in search of employment. By focusing on the copious amount of valuable sea vegetation that is in abundance along the Wild Atlantic coastline, and supporting developers to create new products, work on extraction and processing of plants.

Through raising awareness, education, supporting groups and individuals in terms of new product development, through testing new cultivation methods to grow high value plants and to take products to a global market. We aim to create jobs, opportunities and wealth in rural coastal regions. Although we are currently working in the North West of County Mayo Ireland, once proven, we aim to replicate this model into other coastal areas in Ireland and into other parts of the wider world.

Results and Transferability: 

Although very much in early stage development, the project undertaken so far has demonstrated that the approach is one that is gaining momentum. Whereas, there has been considerable political debate surrounding the issues of licensing of harvesting and processing of seaweeds, there is also the matter of dealing with local groups and individuals. By working with the schools and the young people through an educational approach and supporting the young people to recognise the potential and opportunities that could be open to them in the future through developing the Irish Seaweed industry, there has been greater local acceptance. This approach has also seen approval and support offered through agencies such as the Marine Institute.

Utilising innovation vouchers Redrose has worked with NUIG on both investigating extraction methods and validation of the compounds for high-end applications. Also we have worked with the Ryan Institute at NUIG to develop new methods to cultivation high value plants for human consumptions. We are currently in the process of working to form a small group of local food producers to create a range of produce with seaweed as the ‘hero’ ingredient. Products can be sold on the on-line sales and marketing platform www.wildatlanticseagarden.com the site will also facilitate the sale of raw products, extracts, and bulk purchase orders within the encoded B2B aspect of the site. The transferability of this end-to-end solution for rural coastal communities is one that would need to be adapted to the suit the climate, coastline, the specific plants and therefore the products that could be created. Nevertheless, the replicable aspect of the stages for job and wealth creation is apparent. In the warmer climates working with alternative plants and creating different products, whilst maintaining the stages of raising awareness and education for skills development. Through the process of identifying suitable markets for extraction and/or products the concept could be adapted to any coastal region to meet the growing demand for innovative, natural highly nutritious and valued products. At this stage we are still in developing the concept and working towards ‘Best Practice’, it is however apparent that the approach is one that is gaining momentum and increasing sales through the marketing platform. With support the concept could be developed much more quickly and create opportunities to a wide range of declining coastal communities.

Project/Activity location and area of focus: 

At this time the locality for the focus is in the North West Coastal region of County Mayo, Ireland.
However, interest has now increased and we are selling seaweed based products from all across all of Ireland. The wider goal is to replicate the concept of end-to-end solution to develop seaweed based products into a global phenomenon.

AAP Priority covered : 
Priority 1: Promote entrepreneurship and innovation
Priority 4: Create a socially inclusive and sustainable model of regional development
Total project/activity cost (€): 
1,250,000
Funding instrument used: 

Currently the project has received modest funding from agencies in the region of 22,000 and two innovation vouchers to develop the concept. Investment in the region of 250,000 has been injected by the CEO. The growth of the project could take a further 5 years to develop organically, or could impact within 18 months with appropriate funding.

Promoting and supporting Irish Seaweed Developers
Country: 
Ireland
Region: 
North West Mayo
City: 
Belmullet
Funding contribution (€): 
650,000
Private contribution (€): 
500,000