Vetik: hidden treasures of a red seaweed
Vetik is a new Estonian start-up founded in 2017. The company has access to a unique source of wild red seaweed (Furcellaria lumbricalis) located in the sea area of the West Estonian Archipelago, between two of the biggest islands of Estonia - Saaremaa and Hiiumaa. The resource of this algae wild stock is estimated at 150,000 tons and Furcellaria has been harvested in Estonia since 1960 without any detectable effect on the raw stock. Two of the cofounders have been harvesting and selling dried seaweed since 2009. Now that Vetik has three scientists in the core team, their aim is to use the full potential of this seaweed in a sustainable way. To make this possible, Vetik has gathered key experts from Estonia and abroad as partners.
The main priority of Vetik is to develop a competitive process for large scale extraction of R-phycoerythrin (R-PE) from red algae. This red pigment can be an alternative to existing food colorants. It has antitumor and antioxidant properties which makes it valuable in cosmetics and pharmacy industry. Additionally, due to its fluorescent properties, high purity R-PE is largely used in the field of biotechnology. To fully exploit the potential of the seaweed, Vetik is developing processing technologies to use 100% of the algae material to produce different valuable products, like seaweed extracts, fertilizer etc.
The cooperation with ALLIANCE enables access to testing facilities and guidance for business development. All this allows us to find the suitable markets and application for our product and leads us to good partners”.
For achieving the goals, Vetik is collaborating with ALLIANCE partners such as Tartu Biotechnology Park (TBP), CRM - Coastal Research & Management (CRM), Furcella, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR), Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) and SFTec Oy. The ALLIANCE partners provide testing for seaweed drying, crushing, and pigment extraction technologies. Vetik is also receiving guidance for cost estimations (to build a large-scale production line) and support for business development, finding the right markets, networking and matchmaking for useful contacts and potential collaboration partners.