Friday, November 13th, 2009

A James Cook University-developed innovation for enhancing the growth and quality of the tropical aquatic vegetable “Green Caviar” (Caulerpa lentillifera) is set to enter the lucrative Asian seafood market, thanks to a million dollar deal with South Pacific Seaweeds Pty Ltd.

The $1.4 million investment has been negotiated for JCU by the university’s commercialisation partner, UniQuest.

South Pacific Seaweeds is a private company formed by Queensland-based investor and aquaculture entrepreneur, Brian Russell. Mr Russell has worked extensively with Far North Queensland businesses and government departments to develop the region’s seafood industry.

In its primary market of Japan, Green Caviar or “Umibudo” is considered a delicacy. With its soft, succulent, ‘string-of-pearls’ appearance, the seaweed is a popular feature of the local cuisine. The plant’s texture, peppery taste, aesthetic and nutritional properties make it a favourite addition to salads and side dishes. The European and Australian markets are emerging in response to tourism and the growing ‘foodie’ culture.

Despite a relatively short cycle from planting to harvesting, seasonal conditions in Japan mean supply cannot meet demand, so the crop is then sourced from such countries as Vietnam and The Philippines.
JCU researchers Prof Rocky de Nys and Dr Nicholas Paul have developed a means of producing high-quality Green Caviar that can be grown and exported year round, with improved taste, shelf-life and appearance.

UniQuest Manager of Innovation and Commercial Development at JCU, David Ireland, said the investor was attracted by the significant competitive advantages of JCU’s Green Caviar operations, including Townsville’s dry topics temperature, sunlight intensity, and reliable water quality.

“It’s a great combination of environment, expertise, and economics,” said Dr Ireland.

“As well as developing a new approach to cultivating one of the oldest edible sea plants, the researchers have been working on ways to extract the most value from the whole growing cycle, so in the future South Pacific Seaweeds could have a range of products and by-products to export to an expanding market.”

The intellectual property relating to the technology is subject to a patent application. Orders for South Pacific Seaweeds Green Caviar can be made by calling +61 7 4159 5904.

Contact Profile

UniQuest Pty Limited

Established by The University of Queensland in 1984, UniQuest is widely recognised as one of Australia’s largest and most successful university commercialisation groups, benchmarking in the top tier of technology transfer worldwide. From an intellectual property portfolio of 1,500+ patents it has created over 60 companies, and since 2000 UniQuest and its start-ups have raised more than $400 million to take university technologies to market. Annual sales of products using UQ technology and licensed by UniQuest are running at $3 billion. UniQuest now commercialises innovations developed at The University of Queensland and its commercialisation partner institutions: the University of Wollongong, University of Technology Sydney, James Cook University, University of Tasmania, Mater Medical Research Institute, and Queensland Health. UniQuest also provides access to an expansive and exclusive network of independent academics to tailor a consulting or project R&D solution to meet the diverse needs of industry and government, facilitating some 500 consulting, expert opinion, testing, and contract research services each year.

UniQuest is also a leading Australasian provider of international development assistance recognised for excellence in technical leadership, management and research. Working with agencies such as AusAID, NZAID, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, UniQuest has developed and implemented more than 400 projects in 46 countries throughout the Pacific, South-East Asia, the Indian sub-continent and Africa.

Leanne Wyvill
P: +61 7 3365 4037
M: +61 0 409767199

James Cook University

Ranked in the top five percent of the world's tertiary institutions by the respected Academic Ranking of World Universities produced by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University, James Cook University is dedicated to creating a brighter future for life in the tropics world-wide, through graduates and discoveries that make a difference. The University conducts nationally significant and internationally recognised research in areas such as marine sciences, biodiversity, tropical ecology and environments, global warming, tourism, and tropical medicine and public health care in under-served populations. A research commercialisation agreement with UniQuest was launched in November 2008
Jim O'Brien
P: +61 7 4781 4822
M: 0418 892 449


This deal reflects the potential for innovation-driven regional economic development.



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