Spirulina startup harnesses nature for health and economic benefit

10:04 | 29/06/2018 Science - Technology

(VEN) - Nguyen Van Hung, chairman and general director of Nghe An Province’s Hidumi Pharma Green Science Joint Stock Company, has overcome difficulties and obstacles in growing and processing the food supplement spirulina. The initial success of the project has opened up a new direction of economic development, benefiting the company, locality and society.

spirulina startup harnesses nature for health and economic benefit

Turning point

After retiring from his position as director of the Lung Lo Construction Company under the Ministry of Defense, Nguyen Van Hung established the Long Thanh Joint Stock Company and invested in the spirulina project in Con Temple in Nghe An Province.

During the investment and construction process, he tried the spirulina product himself and felt a noticeable effect. “Thanks to spirulina, I was able to overcome a stroke and resume my job,” Hung said.

Hung then met with scientists to understand the characteristics, use and effectiveness of spirulina, which are produced from blue-green algae. “When I met the Thanh Mai Biotechnology for Living, Production, Trade and Tourism Co., Ltd, which specializes in spirulina growing and processing, it was facing many difficulties. I bought and resolved to rebuild the company in 2016,” Hung said.

According to Hung, spirulina is a super food rich in protein and vitamins. However, spirulina production is difficult due to its complex technology and large investment costs. Hung sought ways to produce spirulina in artificial conditions on an industrial scale in order to create a large quantity at reasonable prices.

After extensive consultations with experts and scientists, Hung obtained funding from the World Bank and the Vietnamese Ministry of Science and Technology through the Fostering Innovation through Research, Science and Technology (FIRST) project.

Great application prospects

The two-year project on research and application of technological solutions for spirulina production and processing, and promotion of the commercialization of algae products, costs VND15 billion. Its end date is December 2018.

Hung said the company has selected an algae variety from which large quantities of spirulina can be produced, comprising high value organic compounds, and conducted research on the products processed from spirulina for use as functional food. The company has also carried out research on the application of spirulina to treat wastewater in aquaculture and organic fertilizer production.

Prof. Peter Monfort from Germany and a team of scientists are also working together to research extraction and separation of spirulina compounds for cancer treatment.

With the support of the Ministry of Science and Technology, the company has conducted research on cultivating the fungus cordyceps roberti. According to experts, the product has about 85-90 percent of active ingredients compared to natural products harvested in Tibet, Xinjiang and China. The company also produces Natto Kinaza fermented soybeans in accordance with Japanese standards and technology.

With the three products of spirulina, cordyceps roberti, and Natto Kinaza fermented soybeans, the company has achieved initial revenues of VND3-4 billion a year and is expanding its markets.

Pham Van Dien, officer in charge of support for new businesses in science, technology and innovation of the FIRST

project, said the project has contributed to the development of spirulina production and processing in accordance with

Vietnam’s conditions. The project has also helped to create jobs for hundreds of employees in the locality, contributing

to hunger eradication and poverty alleviation.

Quynh Nga