Sunday, July 12, 2020

Seaweed farmers take the plunge with £25k BEF loan

The Scarborough couple behind England’s first commercial seaweed farm is ready to set sail thanks to a £25k loan from the Business Enterprise Fund.

SeaGrown, whose farm is based in the North Sea four miles off Scarborough, was the brainchild of former fisherman, diver in the Navy and navigating officer Wave Crookes and marine scientist Laura Robinson, who met while on a Royal Research Ship in Antarctica. The duo were inspired to set up a business harvesting seaweed after discovering many of its surprising qualities.

The duo’s seaweed was initially harvested from rocks to create products for food, baths, pets and restaurants. SeaGrown will continue to hand harvest seaweed, but in order to sustainably increase levels of production, the couple began the venture into seaweed farming with support from the Coastal Communities Fund. After seeing a significant increase in demand for their products and wanting to expand into bigger industries such as biochemicals, food additives, biofuels and plastics, they approached BEF for funding.

Wave said: “After setting up the company eighteen months ago, it’s magnificent to see our dream of a seaweed farm come to life! Seaweed has many phenomenal qualities, including soaking up of carbon, oxygenating and de-acidifying seawater, its ability to create biodegradable plastic and cut down ruminant animal methane emissions by up to 80%. All it requires is sea and sun to grow, so sustainability is at the heart of our business”.

“The funding from BEF has enabled us to purchase equipment fundamental for us to start processing the seaweed. We’ve had an overwhelming amount of interest and support from the local community and have also taken on two full time and two part time employees who’ll be working across all aspects of SeaGrown. The support from Julie and the team at BEF has been outstanding; always communicative and the process was incredibly straightforward.”

The Business Enterprise Fund is a social enterprise specialising in providing funding and advice to businesses across the North, which are making positive changes within their local communities.

Julie Micklethwaite, investment manager at BEF, said: “As part of our commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs), we always aim to support businesses who strive to address global challenges – so it’s fantastic to see the passion and dedication Wave and Laura have for SeaGrown. They have impressive knowledge and expertise and are committed to really making a difference in the local and wider community. It’s great to see how our support has helped them on their journey and Wave fulfilling the role of his own name!”

Wave added: “The UK’s carbon pledge is to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and we believe, with SeaGrown, we can help to achieve this.”

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