Chinese/Australian microalgae development center
March 24, 2016
lobal Chinese agribusiness Shandong Tianjiu Industrial Group (Tianjiu) has entered into a three-year $1 million (AUS) joint research agreement with South Australia’s Flinders University to expand a world-class microalgae and related advanced marine bioproduct development center.
The research collaboration will focus on identifying new products and developing novel, energy-efficient advanced manufacturing technologies to increase applications, yields and purity of high-value marine bioproducts for functional foods in the premium export market.
Tianjiu manages more than 7000 hectares of intensive commercial farming, has a workforce of more than 800, and annual global sales of more than $A220 million. Its biotech subsidiary produces more than 500 tons of plant product extracts a year, including yam flour, malt extract and non-dairy creamer.
In 2014, Flinders University partnered with Chinese company Gather Great Ocean Group to establish an Advanced Macroalgae Biotechnology Joint Laboratory at Flinders University in Adelaide and in Qingdao, China. Professor Wei Zhang, director of the Centre for Marine Bioproducts Development at Flinders, said the Shandong Tianjiu group/Flinders University joint investment was the first phase of investment and could expand in future.
“South Australia’s clean marine environment is very highly regarded in Asia,” Professor Zhang said. “We are delighted to partner with this large agricultural, food and biotech processing company which is investing heavily in innovation and has already invested millions in R&D, developing food supplements, functional bioproducts and improved pharmaceuticals from plant extracts, fermentation and biotech polypeptide technology.”
“Developing high-value marine biotech for advanced food manufacturing will add to Australia’s growing marine ‘blue economy’ which is forecast to grow to more than $100 billion by 2025,” he said. “Proteins and peptides from microalgae, and other marine organisms, can be used as functional foods or supplements in a more healthy diet and to prevent or treat some medical conditions.”
South Australian Investment and Trade Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith said the agreement represents an exciting opportunity to strengthen connections between Shandong and South Australia in research, development and commercializing results. “This collaboration reflects the State Government’s commitment to developing greater commercial and collaborative partnerships with South Australia’s biggest trading partner, China.”