How it started
Pål Bakken spent his youth harvesting wild seaweed for his father’s seaweed factory on the Norwegian island of Frøya. Later, he established a seafood company in Japan, where he was also involved in the wild seaweed trade and learned about seaweed cultivation. He moved back to Europe and established Casulo AS in 2006, focusing on seaweed cultivation technology.
A modern cultivation idea, the “Seaweed Carrier”, was patented and later transferred to Seaweed Energy Solutions AS in conjunction with the company’s establishment in January 2009.
Pål contacted Jon to join the company in 2009 while he was busy working as a Marine Biologist on a seaweed farm in the world’s largest cultivation area for brown seaweed in China (Sanggou Bay). Immediately after finishing his field work in China, Jon joined SES in 2010. Since then he has been involved in the whole process from producing seeds, setting up the first ever seaweed farm in Norway, and now as CEO leading the company and its growing team of seaweed enthusiasts.
From early days to present
Since 2011 in Frøya we have tested many prototypes and concepts, including the Seaweed Carrier, that could one day support seaweed cultivation offshore.
In 2011-2013 we performed the first ever successful offshore cultivation tests in Portugal in Póvoa do Varzim, Peniche and Nazaré. The Portuguese coast provides nutrient rich waters for seaweed growth but present numerous technological challenges given the high energy, open ocean environment. These trials demonstrated the significant potential of seaweed cultivation in Portuguese waters, where natural stands of local kelp populations are diminishing.
Our attention then turned to gaining control over the whole seaweed value chain, from hatchery to finished product. We established our first Pilot farm in 2014 in Frøya, proof of concept (100 tons) in 2015 and entered into the food market in 2016. Since 2017 we have continuously improved efficiency in sea operations, hatchery and processing, and from 2018 had an even greater focus on market development and processing techniques.
Over the last 10 years our team has built excellent knowledge and experience in all stages of production. We have now worked with cultivation research in 9 locations from Portugal to northern Norway, acquiring key knowledge and data on seaweed farming potential in different environments.
From the beginning, the company has made extensive innovations and demonstrated that seaweed cultivation is commercially feasible in European waters. Over EUR 20 million has been invested in R&D which has resulted in hatchery systems, a patented cultivation concept and other crucial IPR related to seed production, cultivation, harvesting and processing.
We have control of the whole value chain and as we move further towards commercialisation we are using our flagship farm in Norway as a base for further developments, and will continue to grow through commercial partnerships, joint ventures and R&D projects to realise opportunities with seaweed worldwide. We have also upscaled our hatchery to supply seeds both internally and to external farmers.
There are endless opportunities for this versatile biomass. Seaweed Solutions has chosen a partnership model providing seeds and know-how to partners who want to join us to unlock the global potential of seaweed.