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15/06/2021 – Health Series / Algae / Innovation / Nutrition / Plant-based / Sustainable

ADVANCING ALGAE-CENTRED INNOVATIONS: New tie-ups in protein development

Qualitas Health – best known for its algae omega-3 supplement brand iwi – has announced new partnerships aimed at helping to accelerate the firm’s development of algae-centred products. The new alliances could help pave the way for a new gold standard in exceptionally nutritional and sustainable plant-based protein products.

Texas-based Qualitas Health has formed new strategic partnerships with Barcelona-based chemicals company Grupo Indukern, and Stockholm-based Gullspång Re:food VC, a venture capital fund with an impressive track record in foodtech firms.

With the consolidation of sizeable investment by the two entities, the partnerships close Round A funding for Qualitas, which has over a decade’s experience in microalgae farming, cultivation and extraction. The firm will look to expand the presence of its iwi supplement brand in the US market, continue its clinical studies, pursue R&D disruptive projects, and keep its regulatory plans moving along.

Crucially, the new alliance opens direct access for iwi to the investors’ advanced facilities and teams, alongside drawing upon the firm’s own expertise, as the firm looks to expand its innovative plant-based protein and omega-3 business. 

Generating nutrition from the desert

“We are delighted that Grupo Indukern and Gullspång Re:food are joining the Qualitas enterprise and participated in our investment round,” said Miguel Calatayud, CEO of Qualitas Health. “Both companies bring decades of experience and deep knowledge of our markets to Qualitas and will be key participants in our growing success.”

Qualitas has a great story to tell, as Peter Odemark – a Gullspång Re:food managing partner – explained. “Its algae is cultivated in impressive pond systems built on nonarable land in the desert, placing minimal footprint on the natural ecosystem, harnessing natural sun-power for energy and utilising saltwater, while creating jobs in rural communities,” he told us, of the facility located in New Mexico (pictured). “We share the same values and vision for creating a better future, better nutrition and to protect the planet.”

New partner Gullspång Re:food VC comes with an impressive track record in foodtech companies that strongly contribute to a more resilient food system. Prior examples include two impressive Swedish disruptors: leading oat-based milk alternative Oatly and no-added-sugar snacks innovator N!CK’S.

Meanwhile, Qualitas’ other new ally, Grupo Indukern, is a well-established, family-owned business focused on chemicals (Indukern, including food solutions and flavours), animal health products (Calier) and pharmaceuticals (Kern Pharma).

New marine-based proteins to launch in 2022

“Grupo Indukern and Gullspång Re:food are the perfect partners for the current scaling stage,” added Mr Calatayud. “They bring knowhow and expertise to twt's existing supplement business, and wider recognition of our newly developed Nannochloropsis algae protein. They also provide a global vision, a distribution platform for Europe and other countries and regions, and unique expertise in plant-based proteins and finished products. Their knowledge, skilled technological team, and advanced technologies will help in conducting clinical research and accelerate the regulatory process for Europe.”

The new marine-based protein ingredient and products line will be launched in 2022. Sourced from Nannochloropsis algae, iwi protein boasts the full complement of essential amino acids and vital nutrients. “Our protein contains all the essential amino acids and each of them meets or exceeds the FAO recommended amount, and we have more total essential amino acids than egg and whey – considered gold standards in protein.” iwi protein also has the highest content of branched-chain amino acids, which the body uses for building muscles. The highly bioavailable plant-based protein is soluble in water and is very mild in terms of texture, flavour and aroma. The main markets for this sustainable, marine-source algae protein include: personalised nutrition, high-performance sport nutrition products, and adult nutrition for protein deficiencies.

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