IDEA - Implementation and development of economic viable algae-based value chains

Project Summary

IDEA envisions the development and enrolment of economic viable value chains based on micro-algae in NWEurope. More particularly, partners from Belgium, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Ireland and UK are involved which are countries exposed to a similar climate that is significantly different from the south-European  and North-European climate. 

The growing world population is in need for new sustainable resources for healthy food/feed & chemicals. Algae produce a variety of compounds via conversion of CO2, nutrients and light, and offer potential as renewable feedstock. Although light intensities and temperatures are lower compared to south-Europe, there is a potential for algae growth. For some species, the NWEuropean climate may even have advantages, and can be economic viable when targeting higher value products (not bioenergy).

Today algae based value chains are not established despite free greenhouse capacities suitable for algae growth. IDEA aims to innovate and push the process development from individual solutions to a viable process chain targeting final compounds for food, feed, cosmetic and agro applications. This will involve at longer term >60 SMEs in the region.

A multidisciplinary team is composed with partners (academics, SMEs, sectoral groups, authorities…) active along the value chain which covers algae growth, harvesting, medium re-use, processing of the algae biomass (including biorefinery) and new marketable final product formulations.

IDEA addresses innovations related to: (1) algae species for NWEurope climate and cultivation efficiency for prolonged growth seasons in NWE (up to 360 days), (2) development of an automated water recirculation, harvest unit & alternative CO2 resources, (3) storage concept, logistics and preservation of algae biomass, (4) regional activities for algae processing, potentially comparable to the milk industry, (5) >15 novel products formulations to targeting value generation. In the IDEA capitalization part, the potential of side-streams is being evaluated for providing nutrients (N/P), CO2, salts, and/or water) in algae growth. IDEA starts where earlier projects ended.


Project Partners

Lead partner

Organisation Address Email Website
Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek 200 Boeretang
Name Contact Name Email Country
Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH Christina Kuchendorf Germany
Algae Natural Food SAS Louis Bourdonnay France
Innovatiesteunpunt voor landbouw en platteland Kristof Severijns Belgium
CentraleSupélec – Université Paris-Saclay Behnam Taidi France
Feed Design Lab Trudy van Megen Netherlands
Thomas More Kempen vzw Sabine Van Miert Belgium
Teagasc, The Irish Agricultural and Food Development Authority Maria Hayes Ireland
University of Twente WIm Brilman Netherlands
Swansea University Alla Silkana United Kingdom
PCFruit vzw Wendy Van Hemelrijck Belgium
Heirbaut LV Kris Heirbaut Belgium

IDEA+ event - September 28th 2023

The IDEA capitalization project will conclude in 2023 with an event. This event will be organized on September 28th 2023 as a physical meeting hosted by VITO in Mol (Belgium). All stakeholders involved in algae value chains are welcome to attend the event and to share experiences!

  • Registration: participation is free of charge, registration is required. 

  • Want to showcase your own work concerning algae at our event? 
    External companies are welcome to install their booths. Interested companies can contact VITO via 
  • Open the Book of abstracts



  • Coffee & registration & poster display (9h00)

  • Welcome (9h50)
  • Algae value chains in NWEurope from an IDEA+ project perspective - Leen Bastiaens (VITO, Belgium) - IDEA coordinator (10h00)
  • Keynotes (10h25)
    • Commercial microalgae production for aquaculture application – Marco La Russa (Algaspring, The Netherlands)
    • Potential of algae for crop stimulation and protection – Stefania Lupinelli (ILSA, Italy)
  • Algae biomass production on low organic carbon containing process water from a demineralization plant (11h00)
    • Removal of nitrogen from process water originating from a demineralization plant by algae grown in open ponds - Dimitri overmeire (YARA, The Netherlands)
    • Harvesting and processing of mixed algae biomass from an open pond - Leen Bastiaens (VITO, Belgium)
    • Cultivation of specific algae species on process water from a demineralization plant in closed systems - Floris Schoeters (Thomas More Radius, Belgium)
  • Digestate as a nutrient source for algae cultivation (11h30)
    • Pretreatment requirements of digestate for use in algae cultivation - Alla Silkina (Swansea University, UK)
    • Establishing growth conditions for unialgal growth on pre-treated digestate via lab scale trials - Behnam Taidi (CentraleSupélec – University Paris-Saclay, France)
    • Pilot scale growth of Scenedesmus on pre-treated digestate - Alla Silkina (Swansea University, UK)

  • Algae growth on CO2 from (burned) biogas (12h)
    • Capture and separation of CO2/CH4 gases from biogas - Wim Brilman (University of Twente, The Netherlands)
    • Algae growth on recycled CO2 from biogas at larger scale - Kris Heirbaut (Heirbaut Algriculture, Belgium)

  • Lunch & poster session (12h20)

  • Visit to VITO facilities (13h20)

  • Impact of side-streams on algae biomass use (14h30)
    • Algae biomass quality and safety aspects - Maria Hayes (TEAGASC, Ireland)
    • First screening of application potential of algae biomass - Joran Verspreet (VITO, Belgium)
    • Potential of algae biomass for food/feed applications Maria Hayes (TEAGASC, Ireland)
    • Potential of algae biomass extracts for agro-applications – Yana De Ruyter (PCfruit, Belgium)
    • Techno-economic considerations - Mohammed El Ibrahimi (VITO, Belgium)

  • Algae value chains - Views of companies perspective (15h20)
    • Farmers diversifying towards algae growth: opportunities & challenges - Kristof Severijns (Innovatiesteunpunt, Belgium)
    • Innovative approach for algae growth on residual heat - Arthur Boven – (GRO2, Belgium) - VITO4starter
    • Application of algae in Petfood – Leonard Greene (Puremeatsnax or Tonitreat, Ireland)
    • High performance nutrition with fresh microalgae - Zakaria Grevisse (Astrofood, Belgium)
    • Vlaamse micro algen (grouping of Flemisch companies & start-ups) – Yves Vande Velde/Luc Roefs (PROVIRON, Belgium)

  • Conclusions & policy recommendations (16h20)

  • Networking reception & poster session (16h30)

Scientific papers

IDEA press


IDEA+ event - September 28th 2023

The IDEA capitalization project will conclude in 2023 with an event. This event will be organized on September 28th 2023 as a physical meeting hosted by VITO in Mol (Belgium). More details on the programme are to follow and will be available here on the IDEA website. 

  • For whom: all stakeholders involved in algae value chains are welcome to attend the event and to share experiences!

  • Registration: participation is free of charge, registration is required. Register now.

  • Interested in presenting a poster during the IDEA final event?
    If you are interested in presenting a poster during the event, we invite you to submit an abstract by August 16th, 2023 
    You can use the abstract template to prepare your entry.

Virtual algae inspiration tour across (NW)Europe

IDEA envisions the development and enrolment of economic viable value chains based on micro-algae in NWEurope. For that we need to interact with everybody active in that chain.

We made a digital inspiration tour that offers you the possibility to 'visit' actors in the micro algae chain and get in touch with them. This at your own speed when you have time for it!vYou can see different colors of dots on the map representing the different links in the value chain. Every dot gives access to contact info and a corporate video. By watching the video, you can 'visit' the company. Do you have further questions? Contact the company!

Have a nice trip and be careful!

Do you miss your or other companies? Please contact Kristof Severijns:

IDEA webinar- July 6th 2021

During the event findings of the IDEA project were presented by the project partners covering among others year round micro algae growth in NWeurope, increasing sustainability of micro algae growth and harvest, wet preservation of algae biomass, processing of algae biomass into products, algae-based product evaluation (feed/food/cosmetics), whole value chain assessment for techno-economic and logistic aspects, and a roadmap towards implementation of an economic viable algae value chain. Further, interactions with other projects (like ValgOrize) & stakeholders will be enabled to get a broader view on opportunities/barriers for algae in Europe.

You can review:


Farmer's microalgae webinar - September 16 - 17 2020 (ENG + FR)

You can review all presentations from our microalgae webinar in French and English here

FZ Jülich Workshop - January 16th 2020

FZ Jülich organised a workshop and discussion ‘Algenbasierte Wertschöpfungsketten und Schnittstellen zur Bioökonomie’ on January 16th, 2020.

Algae trip Holland - March 28-29 2019

Innovatiesteunpunt has organised a two-day field trip to visit several algae growers and processors in The Netherlands. 10 people were very interested in visiting the various companies such as the Algaeparc (University of Wageningen) and Roem Van Yerseke (a grower of algae). You can read the report about this trip here in Dutch.





Results related to algae growth and harvest

  • Growth of cold adapted algae

  • CO2 capture from air in a radial flow contactor

  • A membrane based harvesting and water re-use technology (MAF-technology)

Results related to algae processing

  • Wet preservation of Nannochloropsis & Porphyridium biomass

  • Processing of Nannochloropsis biomass: from photobioreactor to algae fractions

Results related to algae value chains

  • TV-Oost report of the Heirbaut LV open day. About 100 people with different background took the opportunity to see the algae growth and MAF harvesting infrastructure, and to taste Chlorella containing food like waffles, ice-cream, chocolate and cheese.

 To help people understand our project IDEA better, we made an infographic.

You can read our IDEA folder here.

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