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Seagriculture 2019

8th International Seaweed Conference

"Seaweed Success Stories"

25-26 September 2019, Ostend, Belgium

Benny Pycke, R&D Project Manager, SIOEN, BE 

"SEACONOMY: Unlocking the Flemish seaweed economy"




Benny Pycke is Project Manager in the the R&D division of Sioen Industries (Ardooie, Belgium) and project leader of the SeaConomy project. At Sioen, he is responsible for managing projects relating to the advanced textile substrates for seaweed cultivation and other topics relating to sustainable development of the urban environment and urban agriculture using technical textiles. In addition to leading the project SeaConomy, he is involved in the projects MacroFuels (Horizon 2020) and SeaRefinery (ERA-NET). Benny has obtained a Masters degree in Biology (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) and a PhD in Bioscience Engineering (Ghent University) with expertise in environmental science, microbiology, and analytical chemistry. Benny was a senior scientist in the Biodesign Institute at the Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ. He has 4 years of experience working on seaweed cultivation and extractive aquaculture.


Context: In the Northern region of Belgium (Flanders) companies starting to become aware of the wide commercial potential of seaweeds (for food, feed, nutraceuticals, personal care products, materials, energy, …). Still, seaweeds are used on a small scale and often with wild harvests originating from countries in the EU and Asia. 

Challenge: Local cultivation, processing, and marketing of seaweeds via a short chain offers opportunities for sustainable growth (people, planet, profit) of Flanders, but every step in the value chain is experiencing diverse non-technical barriers. Hence, actors from across the value chain need to come together to develop the knowledge and technology required to resolving the dearth of barriers existing today.

Approach: The SeaConomy project gathered for the first time a multidisciplinary consortium of companies, sector-organisations, and governmental agencies to unlock the potential of the Flemish seaweed economy by breaking through the vicious cycle of barriers. We will show how the project allowed Flanders to determine the economic feasibility of seaweed-related activities, the sustainability of the value chain, as well as how legislative and other external barriers were approached. A summary will be provided of the different follow-up projects one year after the project was concluded, including the Belgian aquaculture areas taken up in the upcoming marine spatial plan 2020-2026.  SeaConomy (HBC.2016.0382) is an 18-month project (oct 2017 – mar 2018) and is made possible in part with the support of iCleantech Vlaanderen via the MIP program.

Keywords:  Business Development, Marine spatial planning, Value chain analysis, Case studies, Valorization of seaweeds

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