“It is the best feeling when research directly benefits the business community. There’s nothing better,” said scientist Tor Andreas Samuelsen when he shared the business secret with Nosan. Photo: Helge Skodvin/Nofima

Project Year 2016

Norwegian research sparks green industry

Nofima’s painstaking urchin research may end up as a successful Japanese business venture.

For two decades, scientists in Tromsø and Bergen have been studying sea urchins and feed for an innovative business venture. Now the Japanese are interested in this research too, as it may help them build up the sea urchin industry and save the endangered Japanese kelp forests.


The breakthrough came as a result of Nofima’s collaboration with the Norwegian investment company Kaston, which recognised that the research done in Norway could be useful in Japan, where the kelp forests off the coast had been devastated in the 2011 tsunami, and sea urchins are in the process of overgrazing the little that remains.

The business concept involves harvesting sea urchins, putting them in specially designed boxes and feeding them so that they have a high roe content and thus high sales value. In less than one year, the kelp forests will recover, creating a habitat for other marine species.

To achieve this, high-quality feed had to be developed that ensures that the sea urchins grow well and produce tasty roe of the right colour.

The concept and feed were tested on Japanese sea urchins with excellent results and a Japanese feed company was put in contact with Nofima.

Unique recipe

With the participation of Kaston and Innovation Norway, a licence agreement was signed in 2016, granting the Japanese company Nosan the right to produce and sell sea urchin feed, based on a unique recipe and production method developed by Nofima in Bergen.

Representatives from Nosan have undergone training in Nofima’s production hall in Bergen. Kaston negotiated and signed the agreement, operating under a licence from Nofima to commercialise this research.

Svend Haakon Kristensen, regional director for Asia at Innovation Norway, would like to see more such innovation projects.

“This project is of great symbolic value as an example of the direction that Norway’s new special position is taking, how we can earn more money from the oceans, and the commercialisation of research,” says Kristensen.

Kaston International, Nosan Corporation, Innovation Norway

Innovation Norway, Kaston International and others

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