20 June 2024

Danish biotech venture raises new capital to address aquatic ecosystems

image Photo: Sundew

The Danish biotechnology company, Sundew, is developing biological products to solve significant problems in aquatic ecosystems. The company has recently closed a 17 million DKK (€2.3 million) funding round. 

Sundew uses synthetic biology and precision fermentation to produce affordable and environmentally benign solutions which protect biodiversity and can reduce carbon footprints.  

Applications include aquatic invasive species, harmful algal blooms (so-called ‘Red Tides’) and aquatic pests and diseases that affect aquaculture and display aquariums.  

Sundew’s new round was co-led by EIFO (Export and Investment Fund of Denmark) and The Yield Lab Europe. SOSV also invested. 

On-market product 

Sundew’s lead product is based on a naturally occurring ingredient, trademarked by Sundew as Biokos™. 

Biokos was discovered by scientists at Copenhagen University and the Dutch Institute of Ecology (NIOO). It is effective at killing a range of important aquatic parasites, many of which cause major problems for fish farmers, including Ichthyophthirius multifiliis (also known as ich or white spot). Biokos is also active against key algae species that cause red tides. 

Since beginning operations in 2020, Sundew has developed a fermentation process which allows it produce Biokos profitably at scale. The final product is an easy-to-use tablet which removes the parasites without harming fish or the wider environment.  

It can be used sustainably to replace toxic, long-lasting and environmentally damaging chemicals such as Formaldehyde and Malachite Green.  

Sundew has recently launched its first products to address outbreaks of parasites in freshwater fish and has a growing list of customers on five continents. 

“This new investment will allow us to increase production and grow our sales pipeline. Our vision is to build a company focused on using biology-based technologies to solve some of the major threats to the Earth’s aquatic ecosystems. We are delighted that EIFO, The Yield Lab and SOSV have chosen to support this important work,” said Giovanni Salerno, CEO of Sundew. 

Future product development 

Beyond Biokos, Sundew is developing a microalgal technology which can deliver oral vaccines to fish and shellfish.  

The microalgae can also be used to control invasive species, where the US Government has joined Sundew in a collaboration to control Asian carp species which have become established throughout the Mississippi basin where they cause significant damage to biodiversity. 

Supporting innovative solutions 

Lead investor, EIFO, is working strategically on the green transition and development of new technologies such as biotechnology. There is a great need for innovative solutions in an industry facing huge environmental challenges.  

"EIFO contributes to moving university research into the market using venture capital. The potential of Sundew’s technology is far-reaching and we see great prospects in Sundew’s technologies which can also be used to control invasive species in water and combat algal blooms in a sustainable manner. Sundew is a great example of a startup making use of transformative technologies to pave the way for the green transition within the biotechnological area," says Johan Bitsch Nielsen, Investment Manager, Green Transition, EIFO.