General news

Cawthron's Dr. Chris Cornelisen speaking at the PGF announcement
17 April 2019

Cawthron Institute welcomes funding for National Algae Centre

Advancing world-leading algae research in Nelson has been given a huge boost thanks to the approval of funding from the government’s Provincial Growth Fund, Cawthron Institute Chief Executive Charles Eason says.  

“The approval of $6 million to help build the National Algae Centre will enable Cawthron scientists to expand their internationally-recognised work in the rapidly growing algae sector and create value for our existing and future partners.

“We are extremely grateful for this investment and for the support and advocacy of local iwi leaders, local Mayors and business leaders.” 

Cawthron has more than 30 years of expertise in algae research, from microscopic level through to the impact of algae in our marine ecosystems, and is one of only a few organisations worldwide to specialise in extracting high-value bioactive compounds from algae. Cawthron also has one of the largest living algae collections in the world, which underpins international research.   

“We understand algae from the molecular level, which includes identifying the genes responsible for producing high-value compounds, through to understanding marine algae in relation to seafood safety testing and their potential in the development of novel foods, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical products” says Professor Eason.

The National Algae Centre will be a bridge from science to industry, connecting R&D to commercial application. Micro algae and macro algae (seaweed) is an area of global growing interest due to its unique properties.

“We already work with a range of commercial partners to optimise the growth of healthy algae strains for successful aquaculture and increasingly to identify algal species, including seaweeds, with the potential to produce high-value nutraceutical and pharmaceutical products.  

“There are no other initiatives like this in New Zealand, and we now have many opportunities to connect with commercial entities that make important consumer products from algae”. 

“This is an exciting development for Cawthron, and follows on from our recent investment in establishing a state-of-the-art Finfish Research Centre last year, which supports the growth of New Zealand’s ocean economy through world class science” says Professor Eason.

The Centre will support up to 30 new local jobs, and it is hoped construction will begin by October 2020.