The new facility will have a 200,000-liter production capacity and expanded R&D operations, and should be operational by the end of the year, said the company, which said its existing pilot facility will subsequently be converted to support the commercial production of a separate (undisclosed) “high-value product that is currently undergoing product testing.”
Provectus expects further expansion in the near term with plans for a supplementary 1 million liter facility already underway to support the commercialization of multiple products already in the pipeline, said founder and CEO Nusqe Spanton, who is based in Queensland, Australia, but is targeting the US, Europe, and Asia.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg for Provectus Algae. The stage of development we are now at with our production platform gives us a clear line of sight to deliver some really exciting products to the food and beverage marketplace.”
Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA in July, he said: "We don't see ourselves as a competitor to anyone [growing things like spirulina or astaxanthin in outdoor ponds, or chlorella for protein, or Schizochytrium sp for DHA omega-3s]. We're a complementary platform, to deliver novel products in algae that has never been utilized commercially before.”
He added: “We’re seeing huge interest from corporates; there's a significant move within the industry to move towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly production systems and alleviate some of the pain points associated with specialty food and beverage ingredients.”
Provectus deploys a couple of approaches: the first uses algae species that naturally produce a given compound such as a pigment or fatty acid.
Here, deploying what it calls ‘precision photosynthesis,’ Provectus can optimize and improve the algae’s productivity by exposing it to light, which effectively alters its DNA and improves its productivity without using techniques that would be classified as genetic engineering from a regulatory perspective, said Spanton.
“If we can control the light, we can control the DNA, and we’re able to deliver any type of light in the visible spectrum but also in the infrared and UV spectrum, manipulate the algae and push it down a metabolic pathway to vastly increase the production of a target substance naturally inside the algae."
‘We have the capability to do naturally occurring products… and also biosynthetic products using our synthetic biology toolkit’
The second approach involves using “the entire synthetic biology toolkit, such as CRISPR [gene editing], insertion of genes, design and synthesis of DNA, and inserting those genes into the algae, and we can then use that to upregulate [the production of a given substance] or to produce products that aren't naturally occurring at all in the algae,” he added.
“We have the capability to do both naturally occurring products in novel algae species that have never been commercially grown before, and also biosynthetic products using our synthetic biology toolkit to design and engineer new algae strains for novel high performance products that don't exist today.”
Read our recent interview with Spanton: ‘If we can control the light, we can control the DNA…’ Provectus Algae unlocks algae’s potential as an industrial platform for high-value ingredients