Island microalgae companyBy Helen Altonn
forms partnership with
Cyanotech Corp. is the first Hawaii business partner of the University of Hawaii's Marine Bioproducts Engineering Center.
UH President Kenneth P. Mortimer and Gerald R. Cysewski, president and chief executive officer of the microalgae company, signed an agreement June 30.
MarBEC is being established as a National Science Foundation engineering research center in a partnership between UH and the University of California at Berkeley.
Mortimer said the public-private partnership with Cyanotech "ensures that both our research activities and the training we provide our students use cutting-edge technologies and relate to next-generation industries."
Benefits provided to Cyanotech and other companies in MarBEC's Industry Partner Program will include preferential rights to intellectual property developed in the research program.
Students and graduates will have access to internships and post-graduate employment.
Cysewski said Cyanotech will help to define the center's research and goals as an active participant in the program and a representative on MarBEC's Industrial Advisory Board.
MarBEC Director Alexander Malahoff said Cyanotech is "a prime example of the kind of innovative business that will use what we scientists learn about our last frontiers to create practical and helpful products."
MarBEC hopes to attract more mainland and international biotechnology companies and research laboratories as business partners.
It will host an industry information meeting at the end of this month in Berkeley.
The National Science Foundation provided a five-year, $12.4 million grant for a program to identify and develop marine bioproducts for the chemical, pharmaceutical and life sciences industries.
Cyanotech produces such natural products from microalgae as Spirulina Pacifica, a dietary supplement; NatuRose, a natural astaxanthin product used in the aquaculture industry worldwide; and phycobiliproteins, fluorescent pigments used in the immunological diagnostic market.
The company also is developing microalgae-based products for the biopesticide markets.
It has an exclusive license agreement with the Scripps Research Institute to develop a patented aldolase catalytic antibody with potential use in industrial synthesis for the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, fine chemicals and agricultural products.