Jobs boost after €1 million investment in biotech firm

27th January 2013

Galway is to get 23 new jobs on foot of a €1 million investment round in a local biotech firm specialising in microalgae cultivation.

The investment in Claregalway’s Algae Health came from the AIB Seed Capital Fund, co-managed by Enterprise Equity Venture Capital and the Western Investment Fund.

It will go towards export plans for the company, which will also get support from Údarás na Gaeltachta.

Managing director Edward McHugh said Algae Health would create five biotech jobs in the next 12 months, rising to 23 in three years.

The company cultivates microalgae for the extraction of nutritional compounds.

“Microalgae are … the source of many of nature’s nutritional and health compounds, which are subsequently passed on to humans in the food chain,” said McHugh.

Algae Health’s first product, Astaxanthin, is an antioxidant responsible for the pink colour found in the flesh of wild fish. It has a cleansing and revitalising effect on human cells, supporting brain and eye health.

“Astaxanthin is known as the ‘king of carotenoids’ as it has an antioxidant effect of 550 times that of vitamin E,” said McHugh.

“However, with very few people eating wild fish, this very important health substance is missing from most consumers’ diets, as most farmed fish are fed a synthetic dye, which does not have the same health benefits. Astaxanthin, as a product, aims to fill this market need in the global fish industry.”

Established in 2009, Algae Health has spent three years researching and developing patent-pending proprietary technology that, according to McHugh, cultivates microalgae at a lower cost than existing methods. He said the €1 million funding round would put the company on a commercial footing and bring it to a “self-sustaining” position.

Image: Edward McHugh, Managing Director of Algae Health with Eric Reed of Enterprise Equity Venture Capital and Gillian Buckley of Western Development Commission

The Sunday Business Post