Ingredient innovation from the edge of the world

By Kevin Robinson | Published: 21-Jun-2021

Tasmania is the southernmost state of Australia, the last stop before Antarctica. This unique island is a hotspot for dynamic marine research, including that conducted by world-leading seaweed extract specialist Marinova

Tasmania boasts an almost magical quality. Lashed by tumultuous seas and roaring trade winds, this jewel in the Southern Ocean’s crown is home to towering ancient forests, pristine beaches, rich farmlands and wild seas.

It is renowned for its breathtaking wilderness, the superior quality of its natural produce and the innovative mindset that defines its people. In recent times, the description “the quiet pursuit of the extraordinary” has become synonymous with Tasmanian culture. Excellence prevails here.

Tasmania, similar in size to Ireland, is surrounded by cool and temperate waters. A rich diversity of marine life entices the world’s leading researchers to its shores. This is a place where extraordinary minds gather, pooling their expertise to create vibrant new opportunities.

Progressive Tasmanian biotechnology company Marinova is one such example. During the past 20 years, Marinova has forged an exceptional path to become the global leader in fucoidan science.

Paul Garrott

Paul Garrott

Fucoidan, a bioactive compound found naturally in brown seaweeds, is prized for a range of health properties. It is increasingly becoming recognised for its potential immune modulation, anti-inflammation, anticancer, gut health and antiageing benefits.

Marinova is the world’s only supplier of high purity, certified organic fucoidan with global regulatory acceptance. This achievement is by virtue of Marinova’s access to wild seaweeds of unsurpassed quality, a proprietary fucoidan extraction process like no other and a genuine commitment to innovative R&D.

Marinova supplies its sought-after fucoidan ingredients to some of the world’s leading nutritional, pharmaceutical and skincare companies. CEO and Managing Director, Paul Garrott, explains: “Maritech organic fucoidan ingredients are the highest quality fucoidan ingredients available."

"Our sustained focus on natural, high purity extracts that are well supported by scientific evidence certainly resonates with brands who share our commitment to quality and integrity. We genuinely believe this focus is essential for longevity in the healthcare sector.”

Traditionally, fucoidan-containing seaweeds have been utilised in Asian cultures to address a variety of ailments ranging from abscesses and tumours through to inflammation and congestion.

“Fucoidan is well understood in countries such as Japan and Korea,” continued Garrott, “but it has only been in recent years that momentum has been building in the US and Europe. This aligns not only with the granting of regulatory approvals, but also the growing investment in fucoidan research. There are now more than 2000 scientific papers attesting to the potential health benefits of fucoidan … and Marinova is continuing to lead the way.”

“Today, Maritech fucoidan extracts are included in dietary supplements that target a diverse range of human health conditions. Immune support and digestive health are key areas,” said Garrott.

“But there exist many more opportunities throughout the nutritional category. Our dossier of research not only includes studies investigating immune modulation and gut health but also the potential of fucoidan to assist in the areas of inflammation, integrative oncology and antiageing."

Ingredient innovation from the edge of the world

"Maritech fucoidan extracts are also successfully incorporated into functional food and beverages, a wide range of topical skincare applications and in animal health products. Dermatology is an emerging category that is rapidly opening to fucoidan too.”

In the 1980s, Japanese freighters regularly visited Tasmania to collect the rich bounty of woodchips hauled from its ample forests. These specialised bulk container ships discharged their ballast into local waters and, with it, a range of marine pests. The Asian seaweed Undaria pinnatifida, commonly known as wakame, was amongst the new inhabitants that was quick to thrive in Tasmania’s cool, pristine waters.

“The introduction of Undaria to Tasmania was the catalyst for Marinova’s inception,” explained Garrott. “The company began harvesting this species more than 20 years ago."

"Fast forward two decades and that harvest continues — keeping an introduced pest in check whilst simultaneously supporting the export of our ingredients to more than 35 countries across the globe. Undaria is rich in fucoidan and is one of the species of seaweed at the centre of Marinova’s scientific research programme.”

Marinova invests 20–25% of its gross annual revenue directly into innovative R&D. It’s long been a company priority, as Garrott explains. “It’s essential that we support the efficacy of our novel fucoidan ingredients with scientific evidence. Our team of distinguished scientists oversee a global programme of investigations, including human clinical trials, that attest to the bioactive properties of Maritech organic fucoidan.”

Like many ingredients, fucoidan efficacy is partly determined by the quality of the raw material. “For that reason, Tasmania’s pristine waters are the perfect place from which to harvest seaweed,” said Garrott.

“We harvest wild grown Undaria both here in Tasmania and also off the coast of Patagonia. Both locations are well removed from any sources of human, industrial or agricultural contamination, ensuring that our source seaweed is of unsurpassed quality.”

The Maritech extraction process is a further string to the company’s bow. Manufacturers of fucoidan have traditionally utilised solvents to precipitate the fucoidan polymer from crude extracts. Fucoidans manufactured in this way suffer from many shortfalls. Their quality is inconsistent, their chemical integrity is compromised and — most importantly — their bioactivity is diminished.

Ingredient innovation from the edge of the world

The innovative Maritech extraction technology, developed and used exclusively by Marinova, overcomes these problems. The process is solvent-free and produces fucoidan extracts that remain unadulterated in chemical structure and free from solvent residues.

The mild, aqueous process also ensures the resulting extracts comply with the most rigorous quality standards and regulatory requirements.

“Only the Maritech extraction process can create high purity, efficacious extracts that are certified organic and hold global regulatory acceptance including both FDA notified GRAS and EU novel foods approval,” said Garrott.

“Significant investment in developing this unique green chemistry process has given Marinova’s fucoidan a distinct advantage.”

Marinova’s trifecta of scientific acumen, advanced manufacturing technology and access to exceptional natural resources is further supported by the company’s genuine commitment to sustainability. “It’s something that has been central to the Marinova philosophy since the very beginning,” said Garrott.

“Not only because we are passionate about preserving the marine environment, but we’ve always strived to be an exemplar for innovative biotechnology. The company operates on the premise that a bright future is one that is fair, equitable, respectful of the environment and inclusive for future generations.”

Marinova selectively hand harvests wild grown seaweeds. “Extensive research has confirmed that well managed wild seaweeds are a rapidly renewable marine resource,” explained Garrott.

“Our harvesting is performed by hand in accordance with the plants seasonal growth cycle and on an environmentally sustainable basis. We adopt best practices and will not source any seaweeds from locations where sustainable harvesting practices cannot be guaranteed.”

Marinova’s commitment to sustainability is further visible throughout the entire fucoidan extraction process. “Tasmania leads the world in terms of renewable energy,” said Garrott.

Ingredient innovation from the edge of the world

“Our state-of-the-art extraction facility is powered by a combination of hydroelectricity and solar energy. We’ve also been successful in diverting both the solid and liquid by-products from the fucoidan extraction process. Our by-products are captured and diverted to the horticultural sector where they are utilised as nutrient-rich organic additives.”

“Marinova’s location here in Tasmania has become a distinct advantage,” finishes Garrott. “We’ve handpicked a dedicated team from across the globe for their expertise; they not only enjoy a lifestyle like no other, but they all relish being part of one of the world’s most innovative marine research communities."

"Whilst we remain very connected with our global research partners, our physical location also provides inspiration and focus that is unrivalled. It’s a winning formula that continues to support our unrelenting drive for quality and innovation and is the backbone of the success we’ve found on the global stage.”

“The benefits of Maritech organic fucoidan are becoming increasingly understood in western markets. At the same time, consumer demand for natural ingredients that are supported by credible science continues to grow. We are certainly seeing this reflected in demand for our unique extracts. The future we are creating from here in Tasmania is very bright indeed.”

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