“The future of advanced manufacturing is really about value-adding”

Australian biotechnology company Marinova produces high purity seaweed extracts designed to improve health and wellbeing. Based in Tasmania, the company specialises in the manufacture of the world’s only high purity, certified organic fucoidan compounds with global regulatory acceptance.

According to Amanda Mackinnon, Marketing and Communications Manager, Marinova, “Fucoidans are highly bioactive polysaccharides derived from select species of brown seaweed. When you pick up a piece of seaweed on the beach, it’s covered in slime— and that slime is the fucoidan. It protects the seaweed from water-borne pathogens and other environmental challenges. Some of the properties that make fucoidan beneficial to seaweed are also transferrable to human and animal health.”

“Fucoidan has been consumed for thousands of years, particularly in Asia – many Asian cultures have a seaweed rich diet. It’s often used for therapeutic purposes; in Japan and Korea, for instance, if you are diagnosed with cancer, it is not uncommon for doctors to recommend fucoidan alongside contemporary oncology treatments,” explained Mackinnon.

Acting Today to Protect Tomorrow

A commitment to sustainability has always underpinned Marinova’s business philosophy. Marinova only sources wild seaweed from the cleanest ocean waters and all its harvesting operations are conducted in accordance with world’s best environmentally sustainable practice.

“Our divers carefully hand harvest all our seaweed in a way that ensures it regenerates.,” said Mackinnon. “Our manufacturing process is essentially zero waste. Liquid and solid wastes from the fucoidan extraction process are diverted into products for the horticulture sector. Plus, our offices and manufacturing facility run on 100 per cent renewable energy from hydro and solar power sources. The whole process, from start to finish, is sustainable.”

Collaborating on Research and Development

“Research and development are crucial to supporting our globally-leading fucoidan products. Marinova invests 20 to 25 per cent its revenue back into commercially focused R&D. The benefits of fucoidan are extremely diverse, spanning integrative oncology, anti-inflammation and immune support, through to digestive health, skin protection, anti-ageing. Consumers worldwide are driving up demand for natural ingredients that are supported by credible scientific evidence and have global regulatory acceptance. Our Maritech® fucoidan extracts certainly tick all these boxes, said Mackinnon.

“Marinova has a global network of R&D collaborators. The company invests significantly in a wide range of research trials, including human clinical trials.”

For instance, Marinova recently partnered with Griffith University and the Brisbane Lions AFL team to undertake a clinical trial on the potential benefit of fucoidan on sports performance, specifically focussing on immunity in elite athletes.

“Typically, mucosal immune function can be compromised in elite athletes due to their rigorous training schedule,” said Mackinnon. “At the beginning of the AFL playing season, we measured an enzyme found in the players gut – one that is considered a marker of mucosal immune function. It was suppressed in the majority of players. The players then took fucoidan for the duration of the season. By the end of the season, the enzyme was no longer suppressed and was restored to normal levels. This increase suggests fucoidan could be beneficial in supporting a healthy gut and enhancing immune function in high performance athletes,” said Mackinnon.

Creating a High Value Product

This type of collaboration—between manufacturer, research organisation and potential end users—is essential to the success of Marinova’s business.

“This type of collaborative scientific research is critical for Marinova. In this particular case, it is building the evidence as to why our product may be included in future sports performance supplements,” said Mackinnon.

“The future of advanced manufacturing is really about value-adding, and collaboration is an essential part of this process. Here at Marinova, we’re not just harvesting a primary resource and exporting it. We’re processing the resource and transforming it into a truly high value product. Marinova’s winning combination of unique advanced manufacturing processes and scientific acumen is a great example of where future opportunities lie for Australia. With this mindset, the possibilities are endless.”