The Micoperi Blue Growth experience with microalgae cultivation. A successful follow-up of an Italian applied research that became a clustering example to obtain high-value products.
In the framework of the MedArtSal project, last January CUEIM conducted an interesting interview with Federica Abbondanzi, Researcher at Micoperi Blue Growth, an Italian startup acting in the field of biotechnology research and the development and marketing of natural products deriving from microalgae, with a specific focus on Spirulina. By using it, they obtain several derived products for cosmetic, gastronomic and nutraceutical use.
Tiziana Campisi, Project Manager at CUEIM, conducted the interview at the company headquarters in Ravenna. Mrs. Abbondanzi welcomed her to the greenhouses where the production takes place.
As MedArtSal project Lead Beneficiary, CUEIM considers that Micoperi BG successful example of research and development activities in this field could help both MedArtSal project managers and the project pilot actions salinas to learn more about the right path and process to turn the promising activities started in their saltpans into successful opportunities for their businesses.
The MedArtSal project experience allowed us to understand that microalgae production could represent another key factor in the diversification strategy of the salinas’ activities. The video interview was also shown during the MedArtSal clustering workshops that took place in Tunisia last March, in the framework of the interesting insights shared about the gastronomic relevance of salt and other products from salinas.
Namely, the interview focused on 5 main questions, that allowed to better understand the experience of Micoperi Blue Growth in microalgae production, its linkage with EU Blue Growth strategies and policies, and their potential touchpoints and exchange with the MedArtSal project.
TC – CUEIM: In the framework of EU legislation, Blue Growth represents “a long-term strategy in support of sustainable growth of the marine and maritime sectors applied by the European Commission (DG MARE) to harness the untapped potential of Europe’s oceans, seas and coasts as drivers for the European green economy with a great potential for innovation, improved competitiveness and quality jobs aiming at achieving the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.” Which is the Micoperi Blue Growth contribution to this strategy and how do you consider the microalgae production instrumental to its goals?
FA – Micoperi BG: Our strategy aims to optimize both production processes and products in order to meet our stakeholders, who increasingly demand awareness and commitment to environmental issues. Our researcher’s work has allowed the production of algal biomass with a significantly higher level of quality and sustainability,than other Italian and international industrial productions. It is also crucial to continue to feed the internal research to ensure an entirely Made in Italy supply chain.
TC – CUEIM: In some of the MedArtSal pilot actions, such as the one of Roqueta y Preciosa Salinas in the Natural Park of the Bay of Cadiz in Spain, the cultivation of Spirulina has become a way to diversify the activities while preserving the role of the artisanal salt production. This has an immediate impact on their activities since this type of microalgae is also included in the salinas’ restaurant menu. If we consider the process that allows to bring from the microalgae cultivation to the sale of derived products, and according to your experience, which would be the key points for sustainable and successful results?
FA – Micoperi BG: The investments of the past 6 years have allowed to build a production protocol aimed at obtaining qualitatively excellent microalgal biomass, whose certified and guaranteed agri-food chain (UNI EN ISO 22005:2008) expresses the highest security: genetic certification of the matrix, titration of each lot for a greater guarantee in all sectors of use, including pharmaceutical, medical, cosmetic and food.
The fields of activity of our research and development are many and, in recent years, we have achieved important results:
- Defence of plants with Bioinductors of Resistance (S.A.R.): one European patent, an Italian one and one in Chile, India, and Mexico respectively.
- Production of microalgae: two patents (Italy and Europe).
- Healthy human nutrition (nutraceuticals): two supplements based on freeze-dried Spirulina.
- Natural cosmetics: a line of face creams containing three different microalgae.
TC – CUEIM: Your experience successfully exploits the potential and the versatility of microalgae in several sectors: cosmetic,gastronomic and nutraceutical. Through our project, we are discovering how this can be true both for microalgae production and salt production. How would you suggest to build on the added value of this kind of products in order to make them as fundamental characters of an integrated value chain as, for instance, the food one?
FA – Micoperi BG: The suggestion I would give to think about the value chain from a sustainability perspective, is to focus on quality and transparency, as well as on continuous research.
TC – CUEIM: Your experience was born thanks to the cooperation with relevant actors, among which Bologna University. Our project considers the cooperation of different kinds of partners, even belonging to the Research field, as the University of Cadiz in Spain. How much important is the cooperation with such relevant stakeholders to develop and implement this kind of project? How would you define their contribution for the achievement of your common goals?
FA – Micoperi BG: The continuous interaction between Micoperi Blue Growth Research and other universities is very important, mainly the relationship between MBG and the University of Bologna: the algal biology and physiology laboratory of Prof. Pistocchi, the Green Chemistry laboratory of Prof. Galletti and Samorì, the agro-food science and technology laboratory of Prof. Dalla Rosa, and the Master of Food Safety by Prof. Briguglio. Micoperi Blue Growth also has many collaboration agreements that allow us to host, in the Ortona and Ravenna sites, students and researchers from other universities: Marche Polytechnic University, University of Ferrara, University of Chieti-Pescara and University of Teramo.
TC – CUEIM: An only one microorganism, the Spirulina: several products and benefits for human wellness, and process respectful of the environment and biodiversity. We could say that we do the same in our salinas/pilot actions. Do you think you can collaborate with saltpans in the future, or do you consider them only as competitors in the market?
FA – Micoperi BG: Yes, indeed! It is very important to collaborate with other companies that have the same vision of the present and, above all, of the future.
The video of the interview is available here:
English version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKD5t2wJjzk
Italian version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqmqyT23lEg&t=44s