Green Light: NSW algae biotech accelerator opens the door to new innovators

Green Light: NSW algae biotech accelerator opens the door to new innovators

Phycologic co-founders Zac Duryea and Jack Vitnell (Provided).

A New South Wales accelerator program focused on advancing development in algae-based technology has opened applications for new innovators, having previously mentored four cohorts that have created products like giant sea lettuce lava lamps and biomass farms for schoolchildren.

Known as the Green Light Accelerator, the 12-week program will run from July to October, with successful teams receiving $10,000 in seed funding, access to a research membership with algae experts from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), six months membership to UTS Startups, and networking opportunities.

Green Light is open to startups or SMEs with an ABN registered in NSW and a business or business idea that involves an algae-based product or service.

Previous program participants include Phycologic co-founders Zac Duryea and Jack Vitnell, who have developed a product called ‘Relocatable’ – a giant cylindrical lava lamp that is designed to filter indoor air spaces. The system, which is built from recycled materials powered by solar energy, can hold up to 420 litres of saltwater and grows native Ulva - also known as sea lettuce.

According to the company, the lamp can operate at less than $1 a day in energy costs. Other projects in the pipeline include the creation of macroalgae walls to combat urban heat island effects and developing smaller units of ‘Relocatable’ for homes, offices and education purposes.

"Algae holds immense potential for decarbonising numerous industries," Climate Change Cluster executive director Professor Peter Ralph said.

"The growing recognition and prominence of algae in mainstream media have ignited substantial interest across sectors, including food and beverage, agriculture, and cosmetics. With the launch of our fifth cohort of Green Light, we are thrilled to nurture opportunities for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and startups, thus contributing to the thriving bioeconomy in New South Wales.

“These enterprises will lead the way in green biomanufacturing, providing sustainable products that minimise environmental impact, while also generating employment opportunities and attracting investments."

Other alumni include East Coast Algae co-founders Phoebe and Steph Scott, who have developed a microalgae farm called the ‘Culture Cube’. The product aims to bring algae into schools and teach students sustainable practices, helping them produce spirulina flakes and biofertilisers.

The relocatable cube is made from recycled IBC tanks and powered with solar energy, with a single unit priced at $7,000.

"Our past cohorts have demonstrated the immense potential of algae-based technologies across various sectors," said Dr Alex Thomson, industry engagement manager, Climate Change Cluster at UTS.

"We invite ambitious individuals and organisations with a passion for algae biotech to join us on this exciting journey."

"Together, we can drive forward innovation and create a more sustainable future through the power of algae."

Applications for joining the accelerator program close at 10:00am on June 17, 2024.

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