Evonik invests in Mich.-based biotechnology firm Algal Scientific

By Ron Kotrba | May 01, 2014

Evonik Industries is investing in the Northville, Mich.-based algae technology startup, Algal Scientific Corp. Evonik is part of an investors’ consortium that is investing more than $3 million in a Series A financing round. Under the trade name Algamune, ASC markets 1,3-β-glucan, a polysaccharide that strengthens immune response. It is used as an additive in animal feeds and as a nutritional supplement, as well as in pharmaceutical formulations.

This is the first time it has been possible to obtain β-glucan from algae on an industrial scale, Evonik stated. ASC has developed a new technology for this purpose and is in the process of starting up the first commercial production plant in Michigan. β-glucan is usually extracted from grain or produced using yeasts or fungi. ASC’s new biotechnological process needs fewer production steps while generating significantly higher yields.

ASC’s technology, and the use of β-glucan in a wide variety of animal feed applications, is of particular interest to Evonik, the firm stated. “The immune-stimulating effect of β-glucan results in healthier animals and efficient growth, thus contributing to resource-efficient nutrition of the global population,” the company said. β-glucan is suitable for nutrition of pigs, poultry, and ruminants as well as for aquaculture. 

“Algal [Scientific Corp.] contributes toward sustainable animal nutrition,” said Bernhard Mohr, head of Evonik Venture Capital. “In view of the growing global population and the subsequent increasing demand for animal protein, this is an interesting market with attractive growth potential.”

“We are very pleased that Evonik is joining us as a strategic partner,” said Geoff Horst, CEO of Algal Scientific. “We have been able to attract a strong group of investors; this allows us to advance commercial production and our business.” Also part of the consortium, in addition to specialty chemicals group Evonik, are the U.S. venture capital firms Formation 8 (California), Independence Equity (Illinois), and Envy Capital (Michigan), as well as regional funds and business development companies promoting the establishment and development of attractive companies in Michigan.

Within its venture capital activities Evonik plans to invest a total of €100 million in highly promising startups with break-through technologies and leading specialist venture capital funds. These investments will focus on Europe, the U.S. and Asia.

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