GENIALG Final Conference, Seaweed for the Future: Scaling-up the European sector

GENIALG held its final conference virtually on 30 November 2020. The conference, which focused on boosting and scaling-up the seaweed industry in Europe, was transformed into a virtual event for safety reasons amidst the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Conference organisers, CNRS and AquaTT were disappointed to have to transform to an online conference but highlighting the success of the virtual conference is the attendance of over 450 people from 325 cities in 57 countries around the world! Conference organisers were delighted to receive positive feedback from those who attended, as well as gratitude for the conference recording from those who were either unable to attend or missed parts due to different time zones around the world!

All GENIALG major outputs and ongoing work were showcased by GENIALG’s 19 project partners to an audience of international seaweed stakeholders from industry, research, policy and potential investors as well as members of the public with an interest in seaweed research. The conference consisted of three sessions, with the first two sessions covering the value chains of GENIALG’s two focus seaweed species Ulva spp. (sea lettuce) and Saccharina latissima (sugar kelp) including topics such as biobanking, genotyping and phenotyping; cultivation; composition and processing; enzymatic deconstruction; pilot scale fractionation; biorefining; patents and life cycle assessments. The final session covered the socio-environmental benefits of seaweed farming including the ecological impacts, social licensing and ecosystem services assessment of seaweed farming.

It was a packed programme, an enjoyable mix of presentations of the latest research, short videos giving insight into European seaweed companies, interesting Q&A discussions and even a seasonal seaweed cookery demo. The conference closed with a final roundtable discussion focussed on the future visions for the European seaweed sector where GENIALG coordinator Philippe Potin was joined by panellists:

  • Pi Nyvall-Collén, R&D Manager of Olmix Group, France. The point of view of a fast-growing private seaweed processing and marketing company, a pioneer of seaweed biorefining.
  • Isabel Sousa-Pinto, Professor at the University of Porto, Group leader at CIIMAR and Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP) member of IPBES, Portugal. The point of view of an academic expert addressing research questions on seaweed biology, biodiversity, cultivation, ecosystem services and Nature Contributions to People (IPBES membership).
  • Adrien Vincent, Associate SYSTEMIQ Ltd and Programme Director of Seaweed for Europe, France. The point of view of an analyst and a facilitator to tackle system failures by mobilising talent and capital to cultivate, incubate and scale solutions that accelerate system change and deliver improved economic, environmental and social value.
  • Vincent Doumeizel, Senior Advisor United Nations Global Compact Platform for Ocean Bussiness, N-Y and Director Food of the Llyod’s Register Foundation, London. The point of view of an optimistic world citizen supporting the Food revolution and Ocean based solutions, notably seaweed, for many years trying to address some of the World’s challenges. Initiator of the Seaweed Manifesto and the Safe Seaweed Coalition programme.

The conference recording along with presentations are available on the GENIALG Conference page.

You can watch our partners give insight into some European seaweed companies and also find the seaweed recipes Irish seaweed expert Prannie Rhatigan made on the day here.