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Boost BLUE economy trough market uptake an innovative seaweed bioextract for IODINE fortification

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BLUE IODINE (Boost BLUE economy trough market uptake an innovative seaweed bioextract for IODINE fortification)

Reporting period: 2015-02-01 to 2015-07-31

Iodine deficiency is one of the three most common nutritional deficiencies and is spread all over the world, according with the World Health Organization (WHO) . 40% of the world’s population remains at risk for iodine deficiency and only in Germany it has been estimated that Iodine insufficiency causes a billion dollars in health care costs per year.

The Market for iodine products is expected to increase stably until 2020 being Europe the main regional market.
Of all foods, seaweed is the most famous and reliable source of natural iodine. There has been a quest worldwide to explore and use foods from non-conventional sources, of both terrestrial and marine origin, to enhance and supplement the nutritional quality of human foods (Kumar, Gupta, Kumari, Red, & Jha, 2011). Seaweeds are an excellent source of bioactive compounds such as carotenoids, dietary fibre, protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals (Fleurence, 1999).

The main objective of the project is to produce in a cost effective way new high quality seaweed iodine products focusing in solving the iodine deficiency demonstrated in 3 main target groups (children, pregnant and breastfeeding women and elderly). The expected profit in 5 years will be 4.5 million euro and we hope to have a ROI of 1.9 years (taking into account the cost of the innovation project for UBQ). We expect to increase our staff in 11 people, including technical and commercial personnel.
During phase 1 project we have analysed the technical feasibility of the production of our iodine extract in a cost-effective way as well as the market feasibility to ensure the success of the company. We provide a high quality product that stimulates prophylaxis to insure a physical and intellectual harmonious development of the human body, fighting iodine deficiency.

In relation to the technical feasibility:
• The nutritional and biochemistry analysis of the autochthonous seaweed has been performed.
• The requirements for the upscale of the innovative biorefinary process for a higher production to obtain biofunctional compounds from selected seaweeds, produced in aquaculture conditions, in the Autonomous Region of Madeira has been verified.
o The production capacity and profitability of extraction were taken into account for the selected seaweeds. The research focused on the production and analysis of extracts derived from seaweed and its applicability in the production of food supplements.
o The sea area available for seaweed production and the tanks that will be needed to support seaweed germination on land were taken into account. Together with the University of Madeira, namely the ISOPlexis research unit, it was determined all the necessary procedures to germinate seedlings of seaweed, transplant these seedlings into the sea and its maturing until harvest.
o Evaluation of the biorefinery process on a small scale was determined and the requirements for the upscale in this process were thoroughly examined.
o We investigated several companies with upscale equipment to be able to setup the same procedure of biorefinary in a large scale extraction. The logistics of the upscale were also considered and determined methods to manipulate raw materials, production and handling of the finished product. It was also taken into account the manpower reinforcement required in production and quality control.

In relation to the market feasibility, a desk research has been performed to understand better the market and its trends. The market trends and strategy has been studied in several aspects.
• We have analysed the market of sales in vitamins, minerals and food supplements as well as the seaweed production and more specifically the market of the iodine supplements.
• In all cases, the market trend is a growing one due to several facts: needs of the aging population, trends toward increased healthy living and improving per capita disposable income are contributing to the industry's growth. In particular, changing attitudes toward personal healthcare are driving demand for natural products.

In relation to the marketing strategy, consumer demographics and correct product placement has been analysed in order to start developing our market strategy to ensure the branding message will reach the right consumer segments. During the project in phase 1, the Blue Iodine project and UBQ and its products has been noticed in several media, including newspapers and national TV.

In relation to ensure a freedom to operate, several patents already filled have been identified and analysed. After it, it has been requested the opinion of an IP lawyer to check if there was any conflict with existing analysis. In relation to the IPR protection, the brand name IODOBEM has been already requested at European level and we will most probably opt for a patent protection for our process.

The regulation issues have also been analysed during phase 1 project. Our product is a supplement food and will be commercialized in form of capsules, following the existing laws in the European Community in order to allow its marketing in the countries of the European region.

In relation to the Human resources, we have identified the profiles needed for the following years. We are defining the profile of our international commercial director role in order to contract him in 2016/2017 to help us in the marketing take up of our product, when it will start the commercialization phase that is expected to be at the end of 2017.
The final results of our project, potential impact and use have been better detailed during the project implementation.
The final result of the project, as expected, is the feasibility plan with technical and commercial information that demonstrates the potential impact that the project has in questions of company growth.

Due to a more deep market analysis and market understanding, we have a better understanding of the type of users we should aim the marketing strategy and what has to be done to reach them. We confirmed our initial forecast of a growing market but we have also refined our target market. Our target users have been better defined as: children (7-14 years), pregnant and breast feeding women and elderly (>65years). We will also promote our product between vegetarian and vegan people.

Our new estimations for the impact are for the next 5 years:
• Revenue estimations: 10.2 million €
• Profit estimation: 4.5 million €
• Direct Jobs creation: 11