Apr 7, 2023 - Economy

Seaweed recycling startups get funded, as Sargassum bloom hits Florida

Beach in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on March 16.

Beach in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on March 16. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Carbonwave, a Boston-based startup that "upcycles" Sargassum seaweed into biomaterials, raised $5 million in venture capital funding led by an affiliate of Natixis Investment Managers.

Why it matters: The largest-ever blob of Sargassum seaweed — brown, oily and often pungent — is currently floating toward Florida's west coast, with its outer edges already washing up on local beaches.

Between the lines: Carbonwave CEO Geoff Chapin tells Axios that the company's original plan was to farm seaweed for conversion into biomaterials, but pivoted as Sargassum blooms began to proliferate.

  • It currently has contracts with several Florida resorts to collect seaweed heading toward their properties, and also is having talks with local municipalities.

Details: Other investors include Viridios Capital, Popular Impact Fund and Katapult Ocean. Carbonwave now has raised a total of $12.9 million, and plans to close on another $2 million within the next month.

  • Elsewhere: Macro Oceans, a San Francisco-based startup that farms kelp for transformation into low-carbon chemicals, raised $5 million in seed funding co-led by Refactor Capital, Lowercarbon Capital and McKinley Capital. 
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