KYST​.NO: An increas­ing inter­est in kelp

Seaweed Energy Solutions has worked hard to obtain funding from the EU, and believes an increasing interest in kelp may be the reason why they succeed.

The aquaculture company Seaweed Energy Solutions AS has one of Europe's largest kelp farms. The facility is a pilot farm and the company has for a number of years applied for funds for projects from the EU.

In total, the company has been awarded three EU applications from the Eurostars and Horizon 2020 programs. One was a collaborative project with over 20 partners on biorefining of kelp, while the latter was funds from the SME instrument Phase 2, which is part of Horizon 2020 program.

- We spent two years with the SME-Instrument application, and we succeed on the seventh attempt, says Jon Funderud who is the CEO of the company.

- We were close several times. It's about timing, but also luck, he adds.

Hard competition

Funderud points out that there has been an increasing interest in kelp in recent years, and that this can be a factor that contributes to their success. Furthermore, Funderud says that there is fierce competition for the funds.

- The SME-Instrument application was demanding and comprehensive, and there are high demands on innovation, the market potential and the team that will participate in the project. Furthermore, there must be a large global weight potential, and kelp has it. According to Funderud, the SME Instrument program is an important tool between pilot and commercial scale, a phase where it can be particularly demanding to obtain funding.

A demanding process

The company had to go down to Brussels to present its project before a panel of investors who assessed the project. Furthermore, Funderud suggests to other potential applicants for EU funding that it is a demanding work process and that one should only apply if they really have an innovative idea with great market potential.

- It is important to be patient, and do not expect to succeed on the first attempt, Funderud concludes.

Translated from original article in Norwegian: