Kelp being harvested by Ocean Rainforest in the Faroes.

Faroes seaweed farmer raises $6.2m for expansion

US foundation leads investment round in Ocean Rainforest


Faroese seaweed farmer Ocean Rainforest has secured $6.2 million in Series-A funding for further expansion of operations in the North Atlantic Ocean and the Eastern Pacific Rim, and acceleration of product and market development.

The company, which has bases in the Faroe Islands, Europe, and California, grows and processes macroalgae using a proprietary open ocean cultivation system proven to be suitable for real offshore conditions in the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

It is among the largest commercial seaweed cultivators in Europe and has obtained the first-ever offshore seaweed cultivation permit in United States federal waters located offshore of Santa Barbara, California.

The new investment funding allows Ocean Rainforest to scale up seaweed production to supply the functional food and feed markets by leveraging existing company facilities in the Faroe Islands while expanding its operations in California.

Growing demand

The funding was led by the US-based Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment which invested alongside Katapult Ocean’s Deep Blue fund, Builders Vision and the Ocean Born Foundation. Existing shareholders World Wildlife Fund (WWF-US), Norðoya Íløgufelag and Twynam Invest also participated in this Series A round.

Marc von Keitz, director at the Grantham Foundation, said: “We are excited about Ocean Rainforest’s capabilities to successfully grow seaweed in open ocean environments. This funding will significantly expand their production into off-shore waters and will be critical to meet growing market demand and to reach climate-relevant scale.”

Paul Dobbins, senior director of impact investing at World Wildlife Fund – US, said seaweed’s limited environmental impacts and ability to absorb carbon dioxide and other excess nutrients from the ocean made the fast-growing crop a climate-smart and nutritious food source.

“But seaweed can only thrive as a climate change solution if we create a market for the many food, feed and fossil-based replacement products seaweed can provide. Ocean Rainforest is addressing the feed market and their successful capital raise shines a spotlight on this growing opportunity,” added Dobbins.

Replicating the model

Ocean Rainforest co-founder and chief executive Olavur Gregersen said: “We are delighted that our existing shareholders as well as the new highly renowned investors within the sustainable ocean and climate impact contributed to the success of this financing round.

Ólavur Gregersen: Scaling up in the Faroes.

“The investment enables us to scale up operations in the Faroe Islands and continue to commercialise our cultivation and processing activities of Giant Kelp in California. Furthermore, we will investigate possibilities for replication of our business model in collaboration with local partners in specific locations in Europe and North America.”

Seaweeds are among the fastest-growing crops on the planet. They only require sunlight, carbon dioxide (CO2), nutrients that are naturally occurring in the ocean, and a substrate to grow on, which in farming is usually a rope. When this is utilised commercially and scaled up with open ocean cultivation systems, large quantities of CO2 can be absorbed. This activity reduces ocean acidification, mitigates climate change through carbon uptake, and provides other ecosystem services.

Feed additive

Ocean Rainforest aims to demonstrate competitive business models of cultivated seaweed products to meet a growing demand from market segments such as functional food and feed ingredients and additives for multiple nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals, biomaterials, beverages, texturing, and medical devices.

The company has been fermented kelp to Danish feed producer European Protein, which has used it in a functional feed for pigs that is reported to improve sow milk production, lower sow feed consumption and lead to the birth of more uniformly sized and quick-to-suckle piglets.

Aquafeed producer Aller Aqua was also trialling a salmon feed additive made with Ocean Rainforest’s fermented kelp to determine whether it had a positive effect on gut microflora.

What is The Grantham Foundation?

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment is a private charitable foundation based in Boston, US, with a mission to protect and conserve the natural world via a broad range of scalable, but often neglected, climate solutions. The Foundation believes the world needs innovation and commercialisation of new technologies. Along with environmental philanthropy, it makes investments in building green industries and systems.