MINERVA aims to valorise underutilised seaweed biomass sustainably produced across Europe, to develop new high-value products and reduce waste in current processes. It will add value to brown algal biomass presently used at low efficiency, focused on bulk Ascophyllum (wild-harvest) and Saccharina (cultivated), in addition to other regionally important niche species of commercial potential, based on principles of waste reduction and „food first“ for new products within the blue bioeconomy.
Novel, environmentally friendly algal compounds will be developed to address identified consumer needs in food, cosmetics, biomedical and aquaculture industries. This are achieved via 1) new extraction methods aiding purification of bioactives, and 2) omics-based approaches on unexplored marine microbial sources to develop new enzymes for application to a wide range of marine biomass. Novel algal extracts will be provided to partners with expertise in algal biology/biochemistry, food fibres and ingredients, seaweed-based cosmetics, the development of novel antifouling agents for aquaculture and biomedical applications.
Anticipated outputs are: novel enzymes with food and health applications; novel food fibres; active algal compounds for cosmetics and aquaculture (antifouling agents); integration of algal components into hydrogels and encapsulation.
All partners are experienced in marine innovation using algal biomass, and strong collaborative links exist to ensure integration of complementary expertise, effective workflow and high potential for exploitation of outputs. Industry participation including end-user testing and dissemination activities will support near-to-market evaluation of results.
MINERVA will further develop Europe’s research capacity by training early stage researches in marine biotechnology within the consortium and create a focal point from marine bioresources research in Europe, helping to maintain its leading position in this rapidly emerging area. Project management, dissemination and communication, will be underpinned by RRI principles.