Innovation Showcase: Seaweed & Co.

In the first of our profiles of Innovation Showcase finalists, we catch up with Dr Craig Rose, managing director of Seaweed & Co. who explains a little to us about the unexpectedly complicated world of seaweed...

Describe your business in no more than 100 words
We sell seaweed!

All seaweed is good for you, its just some is better, and Seaweed & Co. has developed and invested in the right relationships, technologies and world-class expertise to deliver superb seaweed to food, health and nutrition markets.  We don't just sell seaweed though; we advise on, supply and accredit the seaweeds we sell from Sea to Store.

Seaweed is the food of the future, providing immense nutrition, replacing salt, and aiding weight management. Our approach ensures customers get what is right for their applications and markets, meets regulatory requirements, and is from our safe and sustainable sources.

What prompted you to enter the innovation showcase?
After engaging with NE BIC, we saw the opportunity to highlight what we are doing and use this platform to further engage with industry, funders and investors.  Importantly, we want to showcase that the North East has a diverse and innovative range of business activities.

Describe the innovation that you’ve entered the showcase with.    
Seaweed & Co. has developed innovative processing of seaweed, which will enable a level of product quality and scalability suitable for our development into more sophisticated food, health and nutrition markets in the UK, Europe and North America particularly.

This is based on the use of wild-harvested seaweeds.

However, whilst our key seaweed products are sustainable and highly scalable, there is opportunity with other species of seaweed, which are limited due to supply from the wild.  Therefore, we are also involved in an innovative seaweed cultivation project based in the North East that is growing seaweeds, in tanks, on land without the need for any seawater input.

How would you describe that innovation to your grandma?
Seaweed is really good for you.  Also, when we eat it instead of other foods it takes some pressure off the planet. 

What we are doing is making it possible for everyone to use seaweed by making it really good quality, safe, easy to use, and easy to get hold of.  

How do you encourage innovation in the workplace?
The industry we are in and what we are trying to do is innovative in its nature.  We are very small at this point in time, so innovation in the work place comes from the individuals involved and their innate desire to want to be innovative.

We also work closely with Universities, and seek to always continue to innovate in research.

As we grow, we will need to continue to find the right people, and always keep pushing forward.

What are the biggest challenges you face when trying to innovate in your business?
Financing innovation is expensive, when you have to ultimately pay the bills and so the temptation is to focus on the short term sales and not to invest in longer term innovation.

Another challenge, on the other extreme, is when we find innovative ideas and opportunities just too interesting, and so it's a challenge at times to curb that enthusiasm and so focus on the innovation that will deliver successes.

And how is business going for you at the minute?
Very good, thanks! We have distribution in place, and customers, and some extremely positive trials underway

Where do you see your company in five years time?
We will be the leading seaweed supplier to the food health and nutrition markets, with proprietary products based on innovative approaches to production and product development.

We will strive to ensure we conserve, directly or indirectly, the marine environment.
We will continue to be based in the North East, and expect to grow a team of skilled and motivated technical and market driven people.

What advice would you give to aspiring innovators?
Get on and do it.  Don't think about things for too long.

A good quote to consider: "People often avoid making decisions out of fear of making a mistake. Actually the failure to make decisions is one of life's biggest mistakes."