Vasilis

The answer is to harvest the power of algae

Solmeyea

2. Zero Hunger 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 13. Climate Action 14. Life Below Water 15. Life on Land

Overview

Solmeyea is a Greek company that has achieved what other algae farms have not: being the pioneer of the circular economy in microalgae farming. Solmeyea produces protein isolates, oil extracts, and natural colorants. Products that can be used in multiple ways by many companies.

Authors

Chris Mougoulis

Chris Mougoulis

priyank shrivastava

priyank shrivastava

School

TIAS School for Business and Society

TIAS School for Business and Society

Professor

Mirjam Minderman

Mirjam Minderman

Innovation

Solmeyea farms microalgae vertically in a closed system inside glass tubes. Microelements and bottled CO2 are used as nutrients, of which the bottled CO2 is captured by the emissions of companies. While, at the moment, the company buys the microelements, it aspires in the future to receive them by hydrolyzing the wastes of fish farming industries. This way the company can achieve the smallest possible footprint for carbon, water, and soil.

The small soil footprint is attributed to the choice of land the company uses for farming, which is infertile land unsuitable for any other farming use. This way, no matter the location and the fertility of the land, vertical microalgae farming is possible. Moreover, since it is a closed system, it does not have an impact on the flora and fauna of the local environment, keeping the biodiversity intact.

Through microalgae farming, Solmeyea takes the algae biomass and produces protein isolates, oil extracts, and natural colorants. These products can be used as materials in food, feed, cosmetics, and pharma. Furthermore, with some additional procedures, the algae biomass can even be transformed into raw materials and be used in the creation of biodegradable bioplastic packages as a replacement for the oil-based PET plastic.



The answer is to harvest the power of algae

Inspiration

After studying abroad and working for large companies, Vassilis Stenos, the founder and CEO of Solmeyea, wanted to contribute to society based on his acquired knowledge and expertise in agricultural engineering. By observing the world around him, Vassilis was deeply saddened by the environment's destruction caused by large corporates. Thus, driven by his values of protecting both the people and the environment, he decided to be the difference that all business schools around the world are teaching.

Hence, the idea behind this venture of creating something useful yet out of the box was born. As Vassilis told us "I want to give back to nature by making use of CO2 and addressing food shortage problems without having a negative effect on society or on mother earth". These values gave him the impetus to make a start and share his vision with like-minded people. Doing good for society and not only trying to make money is the key motivation for every employee working at Solmeyea. The company’s talent pool comes from the Netherlands, France, and the US and these people are primarily the agricultural engineers/ scientists who, like Vassilis, also aspire to give back to society.

Overall impact

SDG 2 Zero Hunger: Solmeyea can help countries become independent of imported food ingredients. With its innovative farming system, Solmeyea can locally produce food materials regardless of the fertility of the land, using as its primary source only the wastes of other industries.

SDG 9 Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure: Having big companies become engaged and aligned with the green day policy by taking initiatives such as Solmeyea, they can not only reduce their CO2 fines but also earn points in the interest of their banks.

SDG 13 Climate Action: Solmeyea has a positive impact on CO2 emissions. What other companies often do, is capture and store the CO2 underground. In sensitive locations that are prone to earthquakes, such as Greece, the storage could have detrimental effects on the ecosystem. As per its patent, Solmeyea does not only capture and store the emissions but, on the contrary, actually captures and utilizes the carbon, performing this way CCU (carbon capture and utilization).

SDG 14 Life Below Water: Solmeya uses nontraditional microalgae variants sustainably without discarding any waste to the environment. Pioneering in circular economy in algae farming.

SDG 15 Life On Land: Solmeyea can establish its microalgae farms on any type of land. Even in the extreme case of a destroyed land due to nuclear war, Solmeyea’s farms can still be used.


Business benefit

Being one of the pioneers in the field brings unique advantages to Solmeyea. The company has created a blue ocean for itself. Manufacturing of protein-based products on an industrial level, with the use of inputs considered as waste, provides an edge to Solmeyea. Furthermore, its three key products protein isolates, oil extracts, and natural colorants have found great traction among the customers. Though still in its early phase, the patented CO2 fixation technology of Solmeyea holds promising potential. For instance, with every ton of CO2 captured Solmeyea can produce approximately 150kg of Food Protein, 40kg of Pharmas, 60kg of Fish Feed Proteins, 50kg of Carotenoids for anti-aging, sunscreen, sun-care products.

On top of that, the company is a highly recognized startup in Greece and has received funding from EIT food which is a body funded by the EU to support innovative companies in the food space.

As per the insights from the interview with Mr. Vassilis, Solmeyea has already turned profitable, thanks to its low-cost based business model. Solmeyea is awaiting FDA’s approval for use of its protein in food products. Upon receiving this, the company will be able to cater to the protein supplement industry, creating an additional stream of revenues.


Social and environmental benefit

The foundation of Solmeyea is based on two issues, one of which is a social concern while the other is a grave environmental concern. The European Union (EU) Commission has awarded Solmeyea with the Seal of Excellence for tackling these two key issues, which are as follows:

1. Food & protein scarcity driven by overpopulation.

2. Climate change driven by the release of CO2.

Global population growth means that food production needs to increase by 70% by 2050, placing pressure on food quality standards.

The world population is expected to reach 9.7 billion by the year 2064. As per the estimates from the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the global food production will need to increase by 70% if the world population reaches 9.1 billion by 2050. Solmeyea, with its technology, provides a solution to the impending food scarcity. The vertical farming and sustainable production of protein-based products promise to benefit society in a larger way.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) accounts for more than ⅔ of the greenhouse gasses which have increased significantly since the start of the 21st century. Especially since 1970, CO2 emissions have increased by about 90%. Since Solmeyea’s technology works by using CO2 as input, when used on a larger scale, this technology can have a significant impact on the reduction of CO2 all the while vigorously fighting climate change.

Interview

Vasilis Stenos, Founder & CEO

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Solmeyea

Solmeyea

Athens, GR

Business Website: https://solmeyea.com/

Year Founded: 2018

Number of Employees: 11 to 50

Solmeyea is a Greek company that has achieved what other algae farms have not: being the pioneer of the circular economy in microalgae farming. Solmeyea produces protein isolates, oil extracts, and natural colorants. Products that can be used in multiple ways by many companies.