Health E-Insights: Do you envision that AlgaeBio’s technology will change the way that omega 3 is produced?
Mr. Thompson: As you know the majority of omega 3 oil is extracted from fish, which absorb it as a result of eating algae. Much has been written recently about the contaminants that follow fish oil based omega 3s. AlgaeBio’s technology extracts the omega 3 oils directly from the source algae, thereby cutting out the middle-fish so to speak. Our unique advantage is patented-use availability to pristinely pure saline water located in the geographic sweet-spot for growing algae using phototropic methods. Yes we have significantly advanced the designs of efficient bioreactors, but our purity and productivity advantages come mostly from our patented use of a pristine saltwater source and the growth catalysts related to our location. Frankly, the market for omega 3 related products is growing so rapidly and is potentially so vast that it is unlikely that our technology will have a significant impact on how omega 3 is produced. It is far more likely that the market will differentiate itself more toward quality grades, such as that we target producing, and commodity grades that are those generally being produced today.
Health E-Insights: What research did you conduct that determined that AlgaeBio enter the omega 3 nutraceutical market?
Mr. Thompson: AlgaeBio has been conducting R&D on omega 3 production for over seven years. It started with the thought that we might grow and harvest shrimp from the salt water source to which we have patented usage rights. At that time omega 3 fatty acid oils were low on most people’s radar screens because definitive medical research had not identified the substantial health benefits. Our feasibility assessment of shrimp farming quickly dissuaded us from moving in that direction but had led us to some research about algae uses other than as fish feed; and we started to explore these other market opportunities and dimensions. One of these opportunities was the production of omega 3 fatty acid oils. The market was emerging quickly and we saw that it was moving strongly in the direction of omega 3s being an input product to many nutraceuticals because of its scientifically proven health benefits. We also saw the equally exciting emergence of demand in the food additive marketplace for functional foods where non-fish derived omega 3 has a marked advantage.
Health E-Insights: It appears your executive staff does not have nutraceutical industry experience?
Mr. Thompson: That is correct. None of our executive staff have been in the nutraceutical manufacturing or distribution business. Perhaps the most industry experience is held by one of our longest serving directors who is both a patent attorney and litigator as well as a pharmacist. He and the firm he founded in Chicago represent a long list of pharma and nutra companies and they provide constant guidance in our IP protection and our nutraceutical market interactions. Also, I should mention that AlgaeBio’s vice president of corporate development and marketing served as a director for a multinational foods company where he studied krill for their protein and fatty acid value. He also served as a line marketing executive and assisted in leading the original marketing for the Pritikin Longevity Program and the successful line of Pritikin health foods. We have also been most fortunate in being able to frame some very powerful, and not yet announced, manufacturer and distributor strategic relationships in the nutraceutical and food additive marketplaces. We have learned a ton from these partners over the several years of working with them in setting market strategy and designing our products. Our real expertise, however, remains firmly centered in the efficient extraction of nutraceutical input products from proprietary algae strains that we have developed and can develop, on a custom basis, as an upstream supplier for nutraceutical manufacturing customers.
Health E-Insights: Which is most important to your organization—mission, core values or vision?
Mr. Thompson: What an interesting question. They are so closely inter-woven at AlgaeBio that it is difficult to point to one without discussing the other two. Our vision sees us creating a strong scientifically centered company that is focused on discovering and unlocking the powers of algae to resolve critical human issues—nutrition, health, energy and environment. Our mission is to establish firm market relevance in each of those issue areas within the next 10 years. Our core values coalesce around establishing operational excellence and product/service leadership. We mean to deliver on all of these by engaging with the strongest human talent we can find.
Health E-Insights: At the end of the day, why should industry manufacturers buy your omega 3?
Mr. Thompson: Purity, complexity and customizability. Because of our pristinely pure salt-water source we are able to develop and efficiently produce extremely pure omega 3s with both DHA and EPA and we can, within a wide range, balance the intensity of each component to the needs of the customer.
Health E-Insights: As chairman of the board at AlgaeBio what keeps you up at night?
Mr. Thompson: Mostly good stuff. Frankly, there are so many opportunities that we are dealing with that the senior management team and I worry some about us potentially scatter-shooting and losing focus on achieving our short-term objectives. So far we have been crisply focused. So if I lose sleep it’s because I am thinking about how we can extend our management strengths to ensure that we can move on these opportunities in a measured and effective manner.
Sheldon Baker wants to interview you. For more information contact Sheldon at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can also be reached on Twitter @NutraInk. And visit his website at www.BakerDillon.com <http://www.BakerDillon.com> .