Innovations for Seaweed Producers in the Northern Periphery Area

We are the lead academic partner in the SW-Grow project - financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).  In our latest college blog we explore this fascinating new project and how it is bringing academic partners from across the North Periphery area to help small businesses thrive and develop. 

The cool, clear and clean waters of the North Atlantic allow seaweed to grow and flourish. Our pristine shorelines support an ideal and sustainable environment which yields seaweed full of minerals, antioxidants and a vast range of nutrients.

Seaweed is considered to have many health benefits for humans and animals -, acts as a sustainable and natural fertiliser and is used in many foodstuffs, beauty products and medicines.

Although seaweed has many benefits, much of the region is experiencing challenges. Increased costs of transportation, drying time, and competition from Asian nations has led to the development of this project.

SW-GROW focuses on the seaweed industry in the Northern Periphery and Arctic region. It aims to identify common issues throughout the region and give access to high-level R&D links within academic partners across regional and national borders to pilot solutions that can be adopted throughout the industry – thus developing solutions that enable technology transfer across the Programme area – benefiting small to medium enterprises (SMEs).

 The combination of seaweed from clean Atlantic water and environmentally responsible processing will result in a high quality product that can be characterised and labelled through chemical analysis to ensure the product conforms to regulations. DNA sequencing will be used to build up a database that will identify where the seaweed has come from. Because the seaweed source is identifiable, a strong brand can be built around the product. This will benefit all SMEs in the area who work towards the quality standards. The branding will also draw on cultural and historical information.

The main outcome of the SW-GROW project is to increase economic opportunities in the seaweed industry by developing innovative working practices to develop quality seaweed products of consistent standard that are identifiable and can be clearly branded. 

Activities include:

  • Developing a seaweed “brand” that reflects the quality of Northern seaweeds;
  • Genetic testing and provenance of products;
  • ensuring seaweed extraction is sustainable with a good balance between wild harvesting and cultivation;
  • Undertaking Pilot projects that will demonstrate the results of Quality Improvement activities
  • reducing waste through the use of seaweed from net cleaning and other processes,
  • optimising energy use by comparing drying methods and encouraging the use of renewable energy

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