Seaweed biostimulant pioneer seeks £4m equity

This article was written by the European Union’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

As the global population continues to grow, the pressure to meet the increasing demand for food has never been greater. The Spain-based start-up Ficosterra offers a ground-breaking solution that maximises crop production while minimising the ecological footprint. Their secret weapon? Seaweed.

In the pursuit of sustainable agriculture, Ficosterra emerged as a pioneer in 2016, then expanded their network and increased their visibility thanks to the EU’s BlueInvest initiative.

BlueInvest is an EU initiative that aims to boost innovation and investment in sustainable technologies for the blue economy. It offers assistance to access financing for early-stage businesses, SMEs and scale-ups. BlueInvest is enabled by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

According to Ficosterra Founder and CEO Luis Lombana, “BlueInvest support was valuable for us in order to gain solvency and visibility among several investors and agencies.”

Seaweed, a highly sustainable and rapidly growing resource, holds immense potential for revolutionising agriculture. The use of seaweed in agriculture contributes to reducing the dependence on chemical fertilisers and synthetic pesticides, resulting in more sustainable and environmentally friendly farming practices.

Ficosterra saw the potential and used the power of seaweed to optimise crop performance. When applied to the soil, Ficosterra’s biostimulants activate soil microbiology, unlocking enhanced nutrient availability for plants. As a result, crops grow healthier and stronger, reducing the need for synthetic fertilisers.

This is important because over 60% of soils in the EU are degraded or in an in an unhealthy state.

But what sets Ficosterra apart? Their ‘Total Recovery Deployment (TRD)’ technology is a game-changer, as it allows them to extract high concentrations of beneficial compounds from seaweed. These natural seaweed-based compounds can replace synthetic growth hormones commonly used in agriculture.

Unlike conventional harsh extraction methods, Ficosterra’s technology preserves the active ingredients in seaweed.

Ultimately, Ficosterra’s solution provides dual benefits – improving crop performance and returns for farmers, as well as reducing pollution and emissions compared to traditional approaches.

Ficosterra was an early member of the EU’s BlueInvest community, joining in 2019. Through the support of BlueInvest Readiness Assistance and participation in BlueInvest Days, Ficosterra expanded their network and increased their visibility within the European blue economy. The networking opportunities at BlueInvest Days, in particular, brought new ideas and connections that helped them further develop their business.

This increased visibility and financial strength enabled Ficosterra to secure a grant of €1,125,908 from the European Innovation Council in 2023, which the company has since invested into developing and scaling its TRD production technology.

Ficosterra also caught the attention of the United Nations Development Programme, by whom they were invited to participate in the Ocean Innovation Challenge, an initiative to address ocean pollution from agricultural runoff.

Now, after successfully launching their products and receiving the Seal of Excellence from the European Innovation Council, Ficosterra is again seeking external funding to expand their production capabilities even further. They seek to secure €4 million in equity, confident that their innovative technology, emphasis on the blue economy and agriculture, and unwavering commitment to sustainability will attract potential investors.

Since joining the BlueInvest community in 2019, Ficosterra has seen remarkable growth. They have expanded their production and reach in both Europe and the Americas by forming strategic alliances and new partnerships. This growth is reflected in their financials, with annual revenue doubling over the past two years.


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