A piece of fabric printed with a blue background and orange and white seaweed.

A deep dive in the search for innovative start-ups

Can algae or seaweed help to reduce the climate footprint of materials used in the IKEA range? That's what the innovation team at IKEA wants to explore. Now, Raffaele and Linn are doing a deep dive into unknown waters, searching for start-ups that want to join hands with IKEA in an innovation accelerator programme.

About 50 per cent of the total IKEA value chain climate footprint comes from materials used in products and food. IKEA has committed to becoming circular and climate positive. Becoming climate positive means reducing more greenhouse gas emissions than the full IKEA value chain emits while growing the IKEA business. There is a constant search for innovative solutions to reduce the climate footprint, and now Raffaele and Linn are looking for start-ups working with marine materials.

"Marine materials are a potential sustainable feedstock for the future that could help us reduce the climate footprint", says Raffaele Giovinazzi, Project Leader Innovation Ventures at IKEA. 

Today, marine materials are mostly used in the food industry. Maybe you have seen pasta made from seaweed and you probably had your sushi rolled in nori papers. The coating that makes a pill easy to swallow often has its origins from the sea. Marine materials are also common in face serums.
A portrait of a man with a beard in a light blue shirt.
Raffaele Giovinazzi, Project Leader Innovation Ventures at IKEA.

IKEA can play an important role in the marine value chain.

"This is an emerging industry, and there are companies developing plastic-like solutions and even meat supplements from algae. We want to understand marine materials as a feedstock and how IKEA could use those materials", says Linn Clabburn, Innovation Ventures Analyst at IKEA.

Marine materials could be algae, bacteria, fungi, seagrass, or by-products from the fish industry. To explore and learn more about the materials and how sustainable they are, IKEA is launching an innovation accelerator programme for marine materials. The goal is to learn how and if marine materials can be a change driver in material innovation.

We hope to support in joining the dots across the industry.

A portrait of a women in a striped shirt, standing in front of a book shelf
Linn Clabburn, Innovation Ventures Analyst at IKEA.
"We believe that IKEA can play an important role in the marine value chain by making by-products more valuable and reduce waste. Since the industry is still young, the scale of IKEA could contribute to competitiveness, speed up development and ideas, and help to move towards a zero-waste approach", says Raffaele.

The scale of IKEA is an opportunity but could also be a challenge.

"At IKEA, we are generally good at capturing opportunities, but all new materials we consider need to be able to scale. We use big volumes throughout our range in everything from food and comfort applications to textile solutions and packaging. So, we need to explore both wild and cultivated marine materials," says Raffaele.
A fabric with blue and green patterns
What are the advantages of working with start-ups?
"There are few large-scale companies in this field. Start-ups have often spotted an opportunity and decided to give it a try and make it work – start-ups know how to get around the challenges. We can support in creating impact and support a strong environmental agenda. When we scout start-ups for the accelerator, we hope to support in joining the dots across the industry and bring together knowledge and technique", says Linn.

What is the most exciting thing about exploring marine materials?
"There is always an excitement in meeting people and companies working on innovations and want to make things work. I hope we at IKEA can support in tipping the scale of an industry and making things happen", says Linn.

The marine material innovation accelerator programme is launched this spring, and IKEA will scout for start-ups globally to find innovative companies that work with marine materials. If you are interested and have solutions that match the challenges, then please apply here.