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KSUM-incubating Zaara Biotech’s Product Wins Worldwide Praise at COP 28

In Business
December 14, 2023

Kerala-based Zaara Biotech won appreciation at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 28) for its latest innovation, becoming the only start-up among the 22 fellow participants to give a presentation at the just-concluded summit in Dubai.

The 2016-founded Zaara, which is incubating under Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM), earned worldwide praise for its Obelia oxygen bar which is based on core-algae and seaweed technology that relies on updated engineering concepts of new-age interest.

The oxygen bar, which traps carbon dioxide in specialized bioreactors called Obelia, has been designed to cope with indoor and outdoor bio-architecture designs. The company is diversifying its innovations across multiple domains to apply algae technology to different industries, according to its founder CEO Najeeb bin Haneef.

“We proudly represented India among the 22 selected startups focused on climate change solutions,” he said, after winning the recognition at the November 30-December 12 COP, which is the only multilateral decision-making forum on climate change with almost complete membership of every country in the world. “We are eager to expand to international platforms through such mega events.”

The prototypes of the project were developed under KSUM’s Fabab Kerala, ensuring sustainable designs by using 140 kg of recycled plastic material for fabrications. The IoT-backed electronics module has also been provided by Fablab. “The products are already on a trial run in Kochi,” Haneef revealed. “We hope for more international infrastructure collaborations in sustainable projects in GCC countries.”

Fablab Kerala, as the state’s rapid prototyping and digital fabrication facility, realized the value of Zaara’s project and its positive net impact on the environment. “Hence we took up the design and development of the functional and aesthetic aspects of Obelia,” reveals Fablab Kerala Project Director Karthik Parasuram. “Our team explored various options and finally decided that the major physical parts of Obelia be made out of recycled plastic waste. Eventually we zeroed in on the recycled extruded plastic bars manufactured by Steer Engineering from Bangalore.”

Currently, the Thrissur-headquartered Zaara is set for talks with the Dubai administration in the application of Obelia in the emirate, Haneef said, noting that the hot climate in the Gulf with sparse rains makes it ideal for the use of the product.

Already Zaara’s B-lite brand has hit the market, providing algae-backed biscuits. Having entered entrepreneurship through KSUM’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Centres, the company, earlier this month, installed a decarbonising tank at the nodal agency’s office in Kalamassery, 20 km north of the city.

Zaara, which focuses on research in energy and food crisis using micro-algae, manufactures India’s first algal-seaweed food and other FMCG products — in collaboration with the Indian Council of Agriculture and Research-CIFT Cochin under the central government.

KSUM, which was established in 2006 under the Kerala government, works for entrepreneurship development and incubation activities in the State.