€15m project to build world’s largest sustainable microalgae biorefinery

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The producer and marketer of microalgae-based bioactive ingredients, is leading a four-year project named ‘SCALE’ which brings together 11 top-tier international partners on a mission to develop the unique industrial and multi-species production site. 

The SCALE programme has received a flagship grant of €15m – the largest award from the Bio-based Industries
Joint Undertaking (BBI JU, a partnership of the European Commission and the Bio-industries Consortium) for sustainable aquatic production.

Construction of the production site begins this year at the headquarters of Microphyt, in Baillargues, near Montpellier.

The facility will utilise CAMARGUE proprietary technology to produce and extract bioactive compounds. Based on hydro-biomimetic principles, the tech mimicks nature’s most efficient growth conditions and takes advantage of the full biological potential of microalgae while ensuring a high level of control.

A CAMARGUE-based demonstration facility is already in operation at Microphyt and has positioned the company as a global leader capable of producing the broadest diversity of microalgae species at industrial scale. 

Over the course of the four-year program, production capacity will increase five-fold, allowing the production of more than 15 new ingredients and an annual capacity of more than 100 tonnes of ingredients to be incorporated into products offering numerous nutrition and wellbeing benefits, thanks to the high content of omega-3, proteins, fats, calcium, iron, zinc and vitamins.

Microphyt does not use GMOs or pesticides, has highly efficient water use and actually consumes CO2. SCALE will further accelerate these environmental benefits by integrating renewable energy production enhancing recycling capabilities, aiding the attainment of European climate targets of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 20%.

Vincent Usache, Microphyt CEO said: “We are really proud to coordinate the SCALE program which foster the transition towards sustainably produced microalgae-based ingredients for nutrition and wellness. Our partners are strongly committed and we’ve received great support from both the European Commission and the BBI JU. SCALE is a key step on Microphyt’s journey as it unlocks the full potential microalgae and its amazing biodiversity.”

Projected finished goods revenues of €1 bn Euros are expected to result from SCALE produced ingredients. In addition, the first SCALE facility will create approximately one hundred jobs by 2025.

Philippe Mengal, BBI JU Executive Director, adds: “For BBI JU, the financing of the first industrial biorefinery that will transform microalgae into premium, highnutritional-value ingredients for food and cosmetic applications, is a strategic priority.

“One of our main objectives is to reduce the risks associated with investments that have significant socioeconomic impact. SCALE is the first flagship biorefinery of its kind, developing a whole new value chain dedicated to aquatic resources. It will help reduce the EU’s heavy reliance on imported natural ingredients while acting as a carbon sink.

“Last but not least, we’re pleased to see an SME taking the lead on this highly qualified project team!”
Microphyt has coordinated a consortium of 11 key partners along the entire value chain:
▪ Technology and Energy Solution Providers (Evolys, SUNTI),
▪ End-users in the Nutrition and Cosmetics Markets (Paul Bocuse Institute, Plameca, Lallemand, Chanel)
▪ Regulatory (Nutrasteward) & Sustainable Development (TECNALIA) Consulting Firm,
▪ Consulting Firm (PNO) and the Bioeconomy Cluster (IAR).

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