Rapid Growth Algae: An enabling technology to enhance algal growth and reduce algal production costs

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Environmental Sciences


We have discovered a novel gene that significantly accelerates the growth of commercially used microalgae. This novel gene offers the opportunity to grow algae faster without or limited addition of nutrients or increased light and therefore offers potential solutions to companies wishing to develop commercial algal strains, which save on algal growth costs. We have filed patent applications for the use of this novel gene. In order to take this technology to market we need to understand fully the market and develop a commercialisation and technical development plan. We seek funding from the NERC Pathfinder fund to commission market research and to work with our commercial partner to develop a robust commercialisation strategy.
Description The commercial potential of our discovery. This award was very helpful in obtaining new insights into how our invention can be brought to the market. However, this knowledge was not sufficient to obtain a follow-on fund from NERC.
Exploitation Route By collaboration with industrial partners
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Energy

Description To prepare for an application to the Follow-on fund. We used this grant to do market research. This was a requirement for submitting a proposal to the follow-on fund. However, our follow-on fund proposal was not funded. The panel decided that more applied research is necessary to successfully commercialize our product.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Energy
Impact Types Economic

Description Increasing the potential of marine microeukaryotes as experimental model systems through the development of genetic tools.
Amount $321,872 (USD)
Funding ID 4961 
Organisation Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United States
Start 12/2015 
End 12/2017
Title New transgenic algal cell line with enhanced growth 
Description We genetically modified a diatom to enhance it's growth. This discovery/new method was used for filing a patent application (currently pending) 
Type Of Material Cell line 
Year Produced 2010 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This is currently being tested also in collaboration with industrial partners. 
URL http://www.google.com/patents/WO2012107780A1?cl=en
Title Enhancer of cell division 
Description We discovered a gene that enhances cell division in diatoms and therefore to improve the production of diatom biomass for biofuel and high-value end products. 
IP Reference WO2012107780 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2013
Licensed No
Impact We have started to collaborate with industry (e.g. Altenergis, Supreme Biotechnologies) to commercialize our product.
Description Supervise an iTeam activity related to this grant 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A team of 7 PGR students (iTeam) engaged with industry too see if there is potential for commercialization of our discovery.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012
URL https://iteamsonline.org/an-innovation-to-significantly-accelerate-the-growth-of-algae/