Seaweed Pioneers: How Symbrosia and HOST Park Collaborate for a Cooler Climate

In the pursuit of a sustainable future, Symbrosia finds itself at the intersection of traditional Hawaiian wisdom and cutting-edge innovation. Nestled within the facilitative grounds of HOST Park, Alexia Akbay, CEO and Founder, spearheads a mission to combat the potent greenhouse gas, methane, leveraging native Hawaiian seaweed. Beyond the technicalities of emission reduction, Symbrosia also grapples with the responsibility of harnessing a culturally significant resource. This isn’t merely a startup narrative but a chronicle of dedication, respect for culture, and the relentless pursuit of solutions for a warming planet.

Alexia Akbay
CEO & Founder | Symbrosia
Video Transcript

This climate is probably pretty representative of a future where the, the atmosphere continues to warm. And so if you're developing technologies for that future, I think it really gives you all of the elements that you would need, which would be like a lot of sun, not that much fresh water. So you're kind of like in a resource limited environment in some ways that really probably promotes a lot of technological innovations.

My name is Alexia Akbay. I'm the CEO and Founder of Symbrosia. We're a clean tech startup based down at the NELHA HOST Park. We produce a seaweed feed additive for livestock to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. It's made out of a native seaweed species, and it can be used in beef cattle operations, but also dairy cows, sheep and goats. Symbrosia is unique because we're tackling methane, which is a greenhouse gas that has 30 times the global warming potential as CO2. That basically means that it's 30 times better at warming the atmosphere. So if we get it out of the atmosphere, we can see a cooling effect much faster. And this source of emissions methane from livestock is one of the kind of outstanding sources that hasn't been fully tackled yet. So there's no solar panels, electric cars, et cetera, mainstream solutions for this source. And so that's what we're trying to bring to market.

Being a tenant at the HOST Park streamlines getting set up. We didn't have to install a seawater pump ourselves. We could just kind of set up, get our laboratory going, have all the resources that we need to succeed. And so it really cuts out a good bit of upfront cost and time to getting going on a new venture. NELHA does a great job of managing the resources maintaining environmental records and sampling and monitoring. So that really alleviates some of the regulatory stuff for businesses down here because it's all handled under one contract.

We have a pretty eclectic group of folks that works in the organization or that we interact with, Hawaiians, locals and settlers, or newcomers to Hawaii. So ensuring that we are providing education, the organizational, cultural people, community elements that have really been prioritized to create something that's sustainable. I would love to continue to lead a company that people are excited to work at and to continue to break down ego. 

I'm most proud of the people that work in our organization. I think that a lot of people come here because they want to be challenged because they want fulfilling work. Things are just accelerating at this, at this pace. We figured out our technology. We have customers now, so every like three to four months, you can just see big visual changes because people have been applying and putting in the work and really want this to succeed. So I think I'm most proud of just everyone's individual journeys within this bigger group of folks and how supportive we've been of each other's career development and interests and goals.

One major issue that we're trying to navigate is utilizing a native culturally relevant resource in a technological capacity. There aren't many good examples of how to do that, but I think there are a lot of folks that are kind of in that process of trying to do it better. You know, in 15 years if I look back and I hope to have achieved something, I think it's that.

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