BY APB STAFF on 10 Nov 2021

Sea Forest pioneers the commercial production of Asparagopsis seaweed, which, when fed in small quantities to livestock, can reduce methane emissions by 90%

Sea Forest, a Tasmanian startup that pioneers the production of seaweed to significantly reduce livestock methane emissions, has won a major Australian startup competition.

This is the second year Sydney-based Ocean Impact Organisation (OIO) Рan ocean impact startup accelerator Рhas held Pitchfest, in a bid to support and accelerate startups working to transform ocean health globally. 

The seven-week Pitchfest initiative was presented by Bank Australia and HP Australia, with a total cash prize pool of AUD$150,000, and another AUD$150,000 in product and support packages. The competition received 215 applications from startups operating in 45 countries with 12 shortlisted finalists.

Triabunna, Australia-based Sea Forest has developed the technology required to cultivate Asparagopsis seaweed at scale, which when fed to livestock, reduces methane emissions by 90%. Sea Forest’s sustainable cultivation technology unlocks the capacity to reduce global emissions by up to 15%, whilst pioneering the development of a new and environmentally positive Seaweed industry for Australia.

“It is such a great honour for a startup like Sea Forest to be named Winner of The Ocean Impact Pitchfest 2021,” says Sea Forest co-founder and CEO Sam Elsom. “Our goal has always been to make rapid progress and meaningful impact on climate change through emissions reduction. We have a long way to go but the support provided to the company through Ocean Impact Organisation will assist in driving Sea Forest to scale its IP in science and engineering to deliver a sustainable seaweed aquaculture industry, regional employment and educational opportunities and positive environmental outcomes for planet ocean”.

Sea Forest CEO Sam Elsom

The first runner-up in the competition was Saathi, an Indian startup improving the lives and livelihoods of women and farmers with healthy, biodegradable and accessible sanitary pads created from banana tree waste Рreducing pollution and promoting a circular economy. 

The second runner-up is Great Wrap, an Australian startup creating compostable plastic film from food waste, with the goal of making the in-demand product ocean-friendly by being completely marine biodegradable.

The winner of the HP Generation Impact Incubator was Emile Theau, a nanotechnology engineer and co-founder of Sine Surf, who have developed patented technology to create sustainable surfboards using wood, that results in 1/12th of the plastic waste of conventional surfboards. 

“It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the crisis facing the ocean, global biodiversity, inequality and our fragile climate, particularly when action by governments and those with the greatest¬†means to enact bold change is lacking,” says Tim Silverwood, Co-founder of OIO. “What I love most about Pitchfest and the work of OIO is that we focus less on the problems and more on the solutions. We know that problems exist and we know that solutions are out there but need help to reach their full potential. Let’s quit wasting precious time talking about the problems and instead help the best solutions to scale – and fast!”