Devenish and Mara secure funding to develop algae-derived products

Northern Ireland-based agri-tech company Devenish and Canadian partner Mara Renewables Corporation (Mara) have secured funding support to develop an innovative algae-derived poultry feed that will improve human and environmental health.

Devenish is receiving funding of up to £384,216 from Innovate UK and Mara Renewables Corporation is receiving advisory services and research and development funding of up to $376,247 (CAD) from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP).

The result of a joint bid with Canadian headquartered biotech company Mara, the partners will use the funds to develop an innovative algae-derived poultry feed with the aim of improving human health worldwide.

Richard Kennedy, Devenish Chief Executive

“The typical human diet lacks health-promoting fats such as Omega-3 DHA. The main source of these nutrients is oily fish, yet the recommended one serving per week is consumed by very few across the globe. There is, therefore, a public health need to make the consumption of Omega-3 DHA more accessible through more popular, globally consumed foods, such as poultry meat, and this is where the nutritional expertise of Devenish and Mara’s patent protected manufacturing method combine to great effect,” Devenish Chief Executive Richard Kennedy explains.

“This funding will allow Devenish and Mara to focus on developing the next generation of OmegaPro, our naturally enriched Omega-3 DHA rich poultry feed, formulated using a sustainable algae-based source. We are extremely grateful for this support, which will allow Devenish and Mara to work towards improving agricultural sustainability and human health on a global scale,” Richard Kennedy added.

Matthew Sharman, Group Science and Technical Manager, Devenish added: “Produced with sustainability in mind and dense in nutrients, this chicken will provide an important source of omega-3 DHA oils in the human diet, whilst enhancing the overall efficiency of poultry production.

“The processes involved will reduce the carbon footprint of omega-3 DHA production and develop a novel sustainable protein source, making progress towards the goal of achieving net zero agriculture emissions. We are enthusiastic to launch this project, the findings from which we believe will inspire similar work within other species sectors such as aquaculture and pigs.”

Roberto Armenta, Chief Scientist and Director of Research & Development, Mara

Roberto Armenta, Chief Scientist and Director of Research & Development, Mara said: “Mara believes that algae-derived nutritional products can supplement and enhance conventional methods of agriculture to deliver health benefits on a global scale. For several years, we have successfully commercialized natural, algal omega-3 products; however, to-date, the algal protein component from our process has remained underused. Results from this project will not only supply further nutritional benefits to the food chain, but conserve the resources required for our bioprocess, and reduce CO2 emissions. Mara’s partnership with Devenish, facilitated by Innovate UK and NRC IRAP, will hasten our route to market and accelerate delivery of the benefits of algal nutrition to the consumer.”

Katrina Hayter, challenge director for the Transforming Food Production said: “UKRI’s UK-Canada competition is an important initiative that helps UK businesses create strong international networks, access expertise and develop international market opportunities. This is a very exciting project which will integrate cutting-edge technology into everyday farming techniques that could help both UK and Canadian agriculture improve productivity and sustainability and ultimately make our respective agricultural systems more climate friendly.”

Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas whilst connecting them to partners, customers and investors.

Devenish and Mara have recently formalised their partnership through the launch of Humanativ, a new joint venture company which will enable them to bring their innovations to the global animal nutrition market.