Project at a glance

Currently, over 100 Megatons of seaweed constitute Europe’s largest biomass, but less than 0.25% is utilized. After they extract important chemical compounds from the seaweed, the chemical companies are left with 50-70% remains (“residual side-streams”), that have very little applications. These residuals are discarded, or at best, sold as low-cost, low nitrogen fertilizer. Existing data on more than 10.000 macroalgae species could help this industrial sector to improve processes, making smart and intelligent use of the residuals.

The iCULTURE project aims to prospect new seaweed resources and to generate a catalyst that can convert such seaweed residual side-streams into high value bioactives. In a broader sense, iCULTURE aims to contribute to answer the needs of the marine, feed, food, and industrial pharma sectors by establishing a novel zero-waste value chain. Importantly, the protection of ocean’s biodiversity life, and the utilisation of bioresources will be a combined goal of the project in a most unusual way. Among its goal, the project will turn potential blooming and invasive seaweed species that plague Europe into valuable biomass!

the concept

The main concept of iCULTURE is to create a new value chain with the help of three Toolboxes:

1) An Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) toolbox with machine learning algorithms that can highlight robust species suitable for utilisation;

2) A Models Toolbox that can predict the most resilient seaweed and will allow a management strategy to use seaweed in a responsible and sustainable manner;

3) A Technology Toolbox, with all the components for a digitally-controlled bacterial bioprocess utilising seaweed residuals and producing valuable products.

The needs

  • Too much abundant data to be analysed manually: over 80 TB of existing seaweed data will be mined by machine learning algorithms and A.I., to identify macroalgae characteristics and features, such as growth, response to environmental conditions, chemical composition… and many more!
  • Preserve seaweed: iCULTURE aims to exploit biomass, while responsibly preserving it with a global vision. A management model, taking global effect and climate change into consideration, will be developed. Key questions will be: what, where, when and how much to harvest?
  • Prospect new seaweed species: explore thousands of seaweed species, to find key features that are important for utilization and to better deal with climate change.
  • Utilize seaweed: produce high value bioactives, such as antimicrobials, by digital culture fermentation.

The steps


The benefits of iCULTURE are multiple:

  • Prospecting, understanding and sustainably using biological resources;
  • Improved efficiency, climate change adaptation and sustainability of industrial processes;
  • Enhanced monitoring, reporting and management of natural resources;
  • Promotion of bioeconomy and enhanced knowledge and understanding of science;
  • Improved consumer and citizens benefits: valorisation of biomass to produce molecules which are for the benefit of society; promotion of growth and employability of the marine bio-based sector;
  • Facilitation of consumer-based transition thanks to enhanced knowledge;
  • Increased European industrial sustainability, competitiveness and resource independence;
  • Increased scientific knowledge of marine technology and its transfer.


iCULTURE is highly diverse, cross-disciplinary consortium, consisting of 17 partners from 10 countries. European expertise on ICT, bioinformatics, biodiversity, biotechnology, synthetic biology and bioprocessing, is combined to strive to achieve the project’s ambitious goals: develop a set of digital toolboxes that can prospect for new species of seaweed, utilize these in microbial fermentation, and understand how to use them responsibly and sustainably.