News Room

Latest news from the Blue Biotech team.

2018 News

Blue BioTech displays at the 2018 Naturally Good Expo

Blue BioTech Shoalhaven is a network of Shoalhaven based businesses that are creating innovative products with a foundation in aquatic biotechnology.  Working collaboratively each business has something unique and valuable to add to the supply chain – from growth, to processing, to product development and to market.  By utilizing each other’s strengths, Blue BioTech businesses are able to produce innovative health products which they are promoting at this year’s Naturally Good Expo.

NowChem, Venus Shell Systems and Shoalhaven Health Co. are all displaying their latest health products under the banner of Blue BioTech Shoalhaven.  NowChem are showcasing their Cherub Rubs baby skincare range.  Cherub Rubs products are fully certified organic and consist of high quality Australian sourced raw materials.  NowChem are exporting the Cherub Rub range to Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia.

Venus Shell Systems are promoting their range of PhycoHealth food products such as Phettucine, SeaC’s (seaweed corn chips) and PhycoDamia which is a unique blend of seaweed dusted macadamia nuts.  Venus Shell Systems are also promoting their newly developed barrier skin cream.  PhycoDerm Nourishment is a topical skin cream that was developed in collaboration with NowChem.  It includes seaweed extracts and, for those in the know, “is rich in L-rhamnose which is known to be particularly important for skin pathologies with anti-inflammatory activities, reducing bacterial adhesion and protection from skin stressors.” 

Shoalhaven Health Co. is introducing their latest lines in healthcare being products based on Fucoidan.   Fucoidan is a naturally occurring compound found in Wakame and other seaweeds.  This amazing compound protects seaweed from harmful infections and bacteria with research indicating that it also has a number of health benefits for people including the ability to act as an immunity booster.

Essence Group is also a key member in Blue BioTech Shoalhaven.   Essence attended the 2018 Naturally Good Expo promoting their outstanding range of products made in the Shoalhaven.  Established in 2004, Essence Group create ethical nutritional food products and innovation formulations derived from nature and create a number of products for the Australian, New Zealand and international markets.  Essence Group is a leading specialised protein powder manufacturer of high-end protein dairy manufacturing and sports nutrition products.


2017 News

AFPI - Australian Food and Pharmaceutical Industries

AFPI explains how a chewing gum made with 100% natural ingredients may be used as a delivery mechanism for medicine.

Can Seaweed Save the World?
Source: ABC Catalyst. Aired 22nd August 2017

Professor Tim Flannery investigates how seaweed is helping to save the world - from growing the foods of the future, helping clean polluted water and even combating climate change.

Growing seaweed is now a ten billion dollar a year global industry. Tim travels to Korea to see some of the biggest seaweed farms in the world and meets the scientists who are hoping to create a seaweed revolution here in Australia.

Click here to see this informative episode

NowChem and the University of Wollongong - an innovative collaboration

Source: Who&Why Media

Gut Feeling
Source: SBS Insight.  Aired 6th June, 2017

According to the Gut Foundation, in the past 12 months around half the Australian population will have complained about some kind of digestive problem.   Following the release of his book on the gut, Dr Michael Mosley returns to Insight for a discussion with fellow experts and ordinary Australians about how the gut can play an integral role in our overall physical and mental health. We discover that improving the wellbeing of this unglamorous organ can have profound effects  – whether you have existing gut issues or not

Click here to view Gut Feelings on SBS Insight

Super Seaweed
Source: Landline, ABC.  Aired 5th June, 2017

Australia has one of the most diverse marine algae populations, but land based aquaculture could be the key to unlocking this rich and untapped natural resource.  

Click here to view Super Seaweed on ABC's Landline

2016 News

ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science - Research Scholarships

Research scholarships in a number of fields are now available through ACES.  ACES has a world class facility with a globally renowned research team.  Their researchers contribute to research into big global challenges in energy and health, and develop new materials and fabrication tools.

Masters in Biofabrication: Suitably qualified candidates may participate in this unique international degree. The course work provided will ensure you have knowledge across a number of traditional disciplines including biomaterials, cell biology, computer aided design and 3D printing, to undertake a research project in biofabrication. In undertaking your project you will become part of a team of researchers.

Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute/ACES PhD Scholarships include a scholarship with a focus on Wound Healing. Building on preliminary studies using a green seaweed extract PhycoTrix we will explore the effect of distribution of anti-inflammatories and growth factors on wound healing. These structures will be created using 3D printing to enable the effect of distribution of these bioactives on wound healing to be determined.

Contact Professor Gordon Wallace, Executive Research Director ACES, University of Wollongong at to find out more about these and other research opportunities.

Skin Cream - A Blue BioTech collaboration
Source: WIN News Illawarra

A new skin cream which uses extracts from algae could hold the key to improving the treatment of everyday cuts and abrasions.  The development of the cream is a collaboration between Venus Shell Systems, NowChem and the University of Wollongong.

Landmark study tests whether omega-3s can reduce aggression in prisons

The Omegaman study expands with a $1.8M University of Wollongong, Norwegian industry and NHMRC partnerships to test whether omega-3 supplements can reduced inmate mental health issues, violence and associated costs in Australian prisons.  The project builds on the feasibility study started at the South Coast Correctional Centre and the UoW Shoalhaven Campus and UoW School of Medicine, that was feature on ABC Catalyst in 2014 (see news below - The Blue Brain).

The project, which is five years in the making, originated from early discussions with UOW Shoalhaven sustainable seafood expert Dr Pia Winberg and Nutritionist Dr Natalie Parletta, from the University of South Australia, and support from Blue BioTech Shoalhaven. As it evolved, the project team brought in UOW Clinical and Forensic Psychologist, Professor Byrne, and now involves collaborations with a number of other experts and industry partners. Read more.


PhycoFoodCo is a Shoalhaven seaweed manufactured foods start-up and is celebrating after winning Gold, Silver and Bronze medals at the 2016 Australian Food Awards (AFA) for their seaweed food products Phukka (Gold), PhycoTein (Silver) and PhycoDamias (Bronze). All products contain cultivated seaweed ingredients from the Shoalhaven.  AFA is Australia’s leading national premium food awards program and this was the first year that a Seaweed Category was introduced - so Australia has at last embraced seaweed as an Australian food! 

PhycoFoodCo - more news

PhycoFood Co is also partnering with Fedora pasta in North Wollongong to make Phettucine! - an easier way to get seaweed nutrition into everyone! ABC Landline came to the Shoalhaven to film the development of this exciting new product and this is expected to go to air later this year.

Blue BioTech Partners sign a collaboration agreement - to progress the next generation of biosynthetic skin made from seaweed extracts

The University of Wollongong and the Intelligent Polymer Research Institute of the University of Wollongong and Venus Shell Systems have signed a collaboration agreement, to progress the development and commercialisation of new wound healing materials made from seaweed molecules. In this collaboration, VSS and UOW are co-funding a PhD research student, Xifang Chen from China (IPRI/ACES), and a local Masters student Tobias Soper (Chemistry), to progress the work already achieved to date on biosynthetic tissue fabrication.

2015 News

Blue BioTech Shoalhaven Update

Since BioMarine 2015, there has been follow up on leads from USA, Norway, Ireland… Negotiations with contacts established in Portugal in 2014 are still progressing, such is the power of networking.

Specific industry outcomes from the Blue BioTech Shoalhaven group in late 2015 have included:
• The University of Wollongong and Venus Shell Systems are continuing to collaborate on the development of 3D printed seaweed based materials. Read more here (Nov 2015)
• NSW Primary Industries have negotiated a leasing outcome for 50Ha of aquaculture farming in Jervis Bay within the Shoalhaven area
• Venus Shell Systems continue to work on their PhycoPRO product range – nutritious food; improving digestive health, revolutionary skin care
• Clinical trials for human gut health were conducted by University of Wollongong in conjunction with Venus Shell Systems. Over 60 local participants were involved in this “BioBelly” trial which concluded in late December 2015, with results anticipated in Feb/Mar 2016.

The Blue BioTech Shoalhaven network is growing. Australian Food and Pharmaceutical Industries is a newly established manufacturing company located in Shoalhaven. Their first product will be natural chewing gum extracted from the genus Pistacia, as well as other trees. Interest within Blue BioTech has been created by products from this business being used as a delivery medium for other health ingredients from the marine biotechnology sector.

Looking forward to a dynamic 2016

Bioprinting: 3D Printing Body Parts - a FREE online course

The University of Wollongong's Australian Institute for Innovative Materials is offering a FREE 4 week course in bioprinting.

Bioprinting will revolutionise the world of medicine. This free online course tells the story of this revolution, introducing you to commonly used biomaterials, including metals, ceramics and polymers, and how bioprinting techniques, such as selective laser melting, hot-melt extrusion and inkjet printing, work.

This course is designed for a general audience. No previous knowledge of 3D printing or biomedicine is required. Click here to find out more about this exciting opportunity.

BioMarine 2015

Representatives from Blue BioTech Shoalhaven attended the 2015 BioMarine Conference held in Wilmington, USA. Dr Pia Winberg and Mike Lewis from Venus Shell Systems and Greg Pullen, Shoalhaven City Council, were there to promote Blue BioTech and its member businesses throughout the 3 day conference.

Biofuels and agri-feeds dominated presentations and discussion at the 2014 conference. In 2015 pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and cosmetic uses were more prominent and the discussion surrounded product development and markets rather than pure research by academics. This is a pleasing outcome and supports the direction of Blue BioTech Shoalhaven.

Collaboration features heavily within the Blue BioTech agenda and they were able to report on a number of collaborative projects that have been developed in the Shoalhaven including;
• Upscaling of a commercial algae farm that it able to produce consistent batching qualities
• The use of algal extracts in 3D printing of human body parts for clinical trials
• Human trials to demonstrate the use of seaweed to promote gut health
• Clinical trials of the use of algal extracts in a topical formulation
• Approval granted for 50Ha of aquaculture leases located in the pristine waters of Jervis Bay

The format of the 2015 BioMarine conference remained unchanged and consisted of 5 streams being;
• A series of 15 min CEO interviews. Mike Lewis, Director of Venus Shell Systems participated in one such interview
• Moderated panel sessions.  Video of the Blue BioTech sessions is supplied below. 
• BioMarine International Cluster Association (BICA) meeting which included representatives from Canada, France, Ireland, Mozambique, Norway, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Spain and USA. Blue BioTech also attended as the Australian BioMarine representative.
• A series of reports from each BICA representative
The final stream consists of a series of one on one business meetings between delegates. Delegates use these meeting to investigate business linkages and partnerships. Blue BioTech representatives participated in a number of these which generated numerous leads for its member businesses.

Overall, BioMarine 2015 was a huge success for Blue BioTech Shoalhaven. Business leads were developed, international ties were strengthened and Blue BioTech once again established itself as a leader in innovation in biotechnology.

Blue BioTech Shoalhaven's BioMarine 2015 Report can be found here.

BioMarine 2015 Panel Discussion

The 6th BioMarine International Business Conference was held in Wilmington, North Carolina on the 13th and 14th of October 2015.  Blue BioTech was there to promote the work of our business partners.  

Dr Pia Winberg, Venus Shell Systems, was on hand to discuss "Celebrating Seaweed - the gold of the sea".

Secrets of Seaweed from Guy Fenton

Scientists and health professionals are discovering that seaweeds contain special gels that can be used for an array of medical applications, from arthritis to mental health. Guy Fenton catches up with one of Australia's leading seaweed experts to learn more about it, and how the Tasmanian biotechnology company Marinova is innovating a whole new range of health products based on these seaweed gels.

Secrets of Seaweed from Guy Fenton

Outcomes from Cascais

A delegation representing Blue BioTech Shoalhaven traveled to Portugal to the BioMarine Business Convention. Blue BioTech Shoalhaven was a sponsor of this event and established a number of biotech industry networks with potential development opportunities. This included visiting seaweed farms in Portugal and biotech medical companies that are interested in developing products from Shoalhaven sourced marine products. The Blue BioTech Shoalhaven delegation attended a number of sessions on best practice of production and emerging technologies in biomass processing from the oceans.

2014 News

Blue BioTech Shoalhaven is now a proud member of BICA – the BioMarine International Cluster Association.

This partnership offers links to industries and collaborations with other countries such as Portugal, Norway, Canada and Scotland. BICA members may be able to access funding through the European EUREKA funding program.

BioMarine will be hosted in USA in October this year.  For more...

Innovation in skin therapeutics

NowChem and Venus Shell Systems are collaborating to develop a therapeutic wound healing formulation from seaweed extract. The innovation stems from a unique and controlled source of seaweed, sophisticated extraction technology and biological assays on cells to demonstrate cell repair.

This project is supporting a University of Wollongong Honours student and local resident to the Shoalhaven – Nicole Fetchet – who is being supervised by Dr. Danielle Skropeta in the School of Chemistry.

High-tech Biotech in biomaterials

The University of Wollongong's Intelligent Polymer Research Institute (IPRI) and Venus Shell Systems are collaborating to develop biomaterial applications of a seaweed extract. Future materials might include anything from electrospun wound healing dressings to regenerative stem cell applications and osteoarthritis injections.

NowChem develop pharmaceutical grade facilities further

The Shoalhaven is about to grow in it’s capacity to formulate and package pharmaceutical grade products. NowChem recently secured a NSW Government grant to grow their manufacturing capacity of high end liquid formulations. This brings their capacity up by an additional 30% and they can now look to servicing a larger and more advanced market of pharmaceutical clients. This will lead to further developing their own range of export products "Cherub Rubs " which was recently introduced to the Australian market through Thomas Dux, a division of Woolworths.

Previously this product range was only exported, and has a good market presence in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, with the next export market being China and Thailand. NowChem sees the collaboration between the Blue BioTech organisations as critical to bringing this excellent opportunity to the Australian market.

Seaweed Pilot farm established in the Shoalhaven

Venus Shell Systems has now established its pilot production facility in the Shoalhaven for 3 tonnes of seaweed biomass to be produced for food, feed and medical applications. VSS sequesters food grade carbon dioxide, nutrients and sunlight to grow a biomass 20 times faster than land crops.

The Blue Brain

The Shoalhaven Omega Man project has gone global. This year the research undertaken in the South Coast Correctional Centre was published in the scientific journal PLoS one and the University of Wollongong research team traveled to USA to present at an international brain research conference. This team put nutrition on the map of brain health which is emerging as one of the biggest areas of research for the next decades. The research showed that aggression of offenders in custody was lower with higher levels of Omega-3 in the blood and brain – the type of Omega-3 sourced from the ocean.  More...

Catalyst ABC "Omega 3 Inmates"

Series 15 Episode 3
Broadcast: 31/07/2014 8:00pm

Reporter: Dr Graham Phillips

"Could omega 3 supplements reduce aggressive behaviour of inmates? Could the level of violence in society be reduced by something as simple as eating more fish?That may sound fanciful, but researchers from the University of Wollongong have been granted rare access to explore the link. Associate Professor Barbara Meyer leads the research."

Watch the video to find out how.

Landline ABC "Slimy Harvest"

Broadcast: 10/05/2014 2:38:07 PM
Reporter: Sean Murphy

"It's a $6 billion global industry and what's more, Australia has a natural advantage. But so far we've only just begun to explore the potential of our native seaweeds. It's a remarkably versatile family of plants that can be harvested as a food or as a vital ingredient in medicine and pharmaceuticals. The world seaweed experts gather in Sydney next month to discuss the future of the industry. Sean Murphy looks at what's happening in Australia."
- Pip Courtney, Presenter

Watch this fascinating report.

Aquatic Biotechnology Sector Strategy

Prepared for Shoalhaven City Council by Locale Consulting Pty Ltd, May 2014

The Aquatic Biotechnology sector is newly emerging in the Shoalhaven. A range of diverse sectors are coming together to form this industry in our region and Council looks forward to a continued positive and productive relationship with the Aquatic Biotechnology business sector and its industry participants. 

Aquatic Biotechnology Sector Strategy (PDF. 990kb)