Will offshore protein production be the next big thing?

Genesea is a plant-based food company from Israel that is developing green-seaweed protein isolate. The startup was founded by Alex Golberg, Ivri Goren, and Alex Chemodanov, all of whom are part of the seventh cohort at the ProVeg Incubator. This is their story.

What does your startup do? 

Alex: Our mission is to provide protein isolate and other ingredients from marine macroalgae for plant-based food manufacturing. We aim to move protein production offshore, producing food ingredients that require no pesticides or fertilisers. Since no land is needed, this is also not connected to deforestation.

Where did the idea for your company come from? 

Ivri: In the plant-based space, the soya sector, for example, is huge. However, there are many people who are allergic to soya or who do not want to eat soya products. We have several friends who are allergic to soya and who were looking for alternative solutions. This gave us the idea of creating Genesea in order to introduce a new type of protein to the market.

Tell us about your team. Why are you the right people for the project? 

Alex: Ivri Goren is the former VP of Tnuva and is a veteran of the food industry. He has spent several decades in the areas of management, marketing, and mergers and acquisitions. Professor Alexander Golberg is a world-recognised scientist in the field of bioprocess development and seaweed biorefineries. He has over 100 peer-reviewed papers and has secured two patents. I, meanwhile, am an expert in industrial seaweed farming. 

What are your favourite parts about building your business?

Alex: There are many parts of this journey that we enjoy. If I had to pick just a few, I would say the connections and interactions we’re having with people along the way – and also working on a project that’s based at sea. It’s also extremely motivating and rewarding to be building a company that is contributing to the wellbeing of people and the planet.

Genesea aim to introduce a new type of protein to the market as an alternative to soya. Credit: Adobe images/vaaseenaa

What have been the main challenges you’ve faced? 

Alex: In a word: scaling. Moving production from small-scale to large-scale and ensuring that the industrial-production process and the resulting product are still optimised is a challenge.

What is it that makes your company unique? 

Ivri: That fact that we do not need any land or fresh water to produce our protein isolate! Generally speaking, humankind needs to reduce its reliance on terrestrial crops for food production. There is no reason to only grow industrial ingredients on land.

Projections for the future growth of the global plant-based market are huge, and we expect that seaweed will take a significant slice of that. Our production processes and methods, and our resulting products, will help us to stand out in this future landscape.

Why did you decide to join the ProVeg Incubator? 

Alex: We were attracted to ProVeg by the opportunities offered for networking with relevant industry experts. Do not try to do this alone! 

In your opinion, what do you think it takes for a startup to be successful? 

Ivri: Three key things – good human relations, a shared vision, and clear focus. 

What do you hope to achieve with your company in the next 12 months?

Alex: We intend developing a lab- or pilot-scale production process in order to be able to deliver a real, tangible food product made with our ingredients.

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