Towards a natural balance of ocean life, with innovation and eco-system partners

Mikael Westerlund,
Chief Business Activist,
Origin by Ocean,

How could we start a company, establish a business with a clear target to address the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14? How can we positively impact the environment we live in and yet create economic growth? What businesses are successful fifty years from now? Is it possible to build a successful and sustainable business around and based upon these types of questions?

We, the founders of Origin by Ocean, are placing our bets on creating a company built from the start on sustainable, circular economy and circular nutrient principles and values. We extract and create value in our marine biomass refinery process.

Because of the enormous human population and our huge impact on our planet, we keep the future of our existence in our own hands. By changing our ways of using natural resources and with new behavior we can achieve the targets set in the United Nations SDG frameworks. This forced transition provides great opportunities for a new generation of companies and bold entrepreneurs fearless of the new and unknown. New companies with sustainability goals and values as a normal part of their operations are the winners of the future.

Origin by Ocean was born with sustainable principles and values at its core. Encouraged by this opportunity and powered by real Finnish “sisu”, we are set to pursue our vision of a better planet for all of us, through sustainable use of cultivated and harvested marine biomass from our oceans. Our mission is cleaner water, cleaner oceans, cleaner life. We provide a strongly positive impact to our planet Earth, create new income opportunities in remote coastal and archipelago areas, alleviate the eutrophication problem of our oceans, boost biodiversity and provide sustainable ingredients for fast-moving consumables and applications. The UNOPS Global Innovation Challenge award we received in December 2020 is a great recognition of this fact. The European Union is making big bets on the Green Deal with 1 trillion Euros investments. This great initiative is a step in the right direction. It is clear that this new type of green or even blue sustainable businesses can and will provide a source for economic development in the long term, not only in the EU but globally.

Considering SDG 14, Life below water, and relating this to our local environment in the Baltic Sea, we see that Finland as a nation and part of the HELCOM agreement, still has to implement both nutrient reduction and removal actions to achieve the set targets. We apply the rules and power(s) of capitalism to solve this problem, turning it into an opportunity. Our business idea and commercial model enables a complete business ecosystem. By combining forces, we create a new value chain together to address this vast eutrophication problem of our oceans. Value can be created by solving this problem using the latest innovations in marine biomass refinery technologies, seaweed cultivation methods and blue green algae harvesting. The traditional ideas and concepts of utilization of marine biomass typically suffer from low product and process yields, which both lead to relatively low value creation capacity. Overall value creation from the biorefinery is paramount to the birth of a sustainable business ecosystem. On the other hand, the ecosystem is key to drive this sustainable industry forward towards a global scale implementation and impact.

Our focus is on resolving the biomass processing pain-points and the building of a business ecosystem. Our biorefinery allows us to create new interesting business opportunities across the whole value chain. The business ecosystem is not limited to seaweed farmers and blue green algae harvesters but also includes enterprises involved in the manufacturing of different cultivation and harvesting equipment’s and logistics services companies. Our global business is based on this model. Still, science and industrialization/commercialization of both seaweed cultivation and blue green algae harvesting is needed for us to reach the high impact we are in pursuit of. We aim at a similar industrial scale as for example that of forest industry. However, our case is built from the start on a sustainable business model, principle and foundation. In our work, we connect to the SGDs relevant to us: 1- No Poverty, 2-Zero Hunger, 8- Decent work & economic growth, 9-Industy, Innovation & Infrastructure, 12- Responsible Consumption and Production, 13- Climate Action, 14-Life below water, 17-Partnerships for the Goals. By connecting our business to these goals and by applying relevant metrics, we are monitoring our impact.

How to make a global impact? Finding constantly growing global markets and applications has been key to us. We are building our future on consumer market trends such as vegetarian diets, biobased ingredients for industrial applications, biobased packaging, biobased cosmetics and lab grown meat, amongst others.

Can Origin by Ocean make it? The future will tell, but one thing is clear; we need more initiatives like Origin by Ocean to reach our common interest of securing a livable habitat for our grandchildren.

Expert article 2895

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