Advanced Algae Heads for Asia: Indonesia Food Giant Invests in Heliae
by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest) In Arizona, Heliae announced a capital raise of $15 million in funding from international conglomerate Salim Group’s agribusiness company, PT. PP London Sumatra Indonesia, through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Agri Investments.
This marks a total of close to $50 million in funding that Heliae has received since launching in 2008. As a start-up venture spun out of Arizona State University with the support of Science Foundation of Arizona, Heliae’s mission is to develop and validate technology solutions for the commercial production of algae for a variety of potential uses including food & feed, fertilizer, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and fuel.
This new round of investment will support tangible steps toward creating an international presence for Heliae’s technology by funding continued research and development at Heliae’s demonstration facility in Arizona and taking steps toward operating an R&D center in Indonesia, aiming for commercial production in 2014.
… With the Mars family investment, the company tapped former BioFuel Energy COO Dan Simon as CEO and, unsurprisingly but critically, expanded the focus beyond fuels and into foods, feed and fertilizers. But it had not, by any means, abandoned fuels. Last year SkyNRG signed an MOU with Heliae to produce algae-based jet fuel, and at last year’s Paris Air Show, Heliae Development and Azmark Aero Systems announced a collaboration to develop and promote algal fuels in jet engines.
…We do know that the Helae solution is designed as a bolt-on solution for industrial CO2 emitters or nitrogenous waste sources – and their algal strains are reported to be producing at rates that are well above industry norms.
… In the US and Europe, Anthoni Salim is not all that well known in the US and Europe, but he’s Indonesia’s 5th wealthiest individual (net worth, reported by Forbes at $3.6 billion), and multiple food, cement, real estate, banking, and mining public companies in his control. Over in Asia, his name is an established brand.
The Food Factor. Over the next few years, expect a fairly healthy number of algal companies to pivot to the feed and food sectors, en route to entering fuels.
…Feed and food, while smaller markets than fuels, offer vast gulfs of opportunity, and higher per-ton prices. More importantly, Asia is long capital and short feed.