The Missoulian: Missoula biochemical research fueled by ancient algae


The Missoulian: Missoula biochemical research fueled by ancient algae

Published: DECEMBER 22, 2011

Sometimes, to see the future you have to look back – say, 2.5 billion years back.

That’s the plan at Missoula-based Blue Marble Biomaterials, a young company exploring ways to make extremely valuable products out of prosaically natural processes.

“We concentrate on making things worth between $5,000 and $6,000 a kilogram,” Blue Marble co-founder James Stephens said. Things like food colorings, flavors and nutritional oils derived from coffee grounds, beer mash and algae. And a recent discovery about a very old form of algae may revolutionize both Blue Marble and the whole business of bioengineering.

Stephens graduated from the University of Montana and went to Seattle to start a business. In 2010, he moved back to Missoula and went to his alma mater’s office of technology transfer, looking for promising research.

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