THE backers of an Edinburgh start-up that uses by-products from the whisky industry to make food for animals and fish have ploughed a further £1 million into the business to enable it to scale its operations over the coming year.

Business angel group Equity Gap, Scottish Enterprise’s Scottish Investment Bank and University of Edinburgh venture fund Old College Capital collectively invested £500,000 in MiAlgae in the middle of 2018.

They have now joined forces with Hillhouse Group, a Troon-based quarry business, to plough a further £1m into the firm.

Hillhouse came on board as an investor after being impressed with the contribution MiAlgae can make to the circular economy, with the investment marking the first time it has looked outside its own market sector.

MiAlgae, which was founded by then University of Edinburgh masters student Douglas Martin in 2016, will use the cash to double the size of its business premises, commission a plant to demonstrate its technology and to add five new hires to its eight-strong staff over the next 12 months.

Mr Martin, who came up with the idea for the business while studying for an MSc in synthetic biology and biotechnology, said the additional investment would allow the firm to “turn our attention to growing the business”.

MiAlgae makes supplements for livestock and aquaculture feed using microalgae grown in the water-based waste created in the production of whisky.

Its supplements are high in Omega-3, meaning the business can not only make use of waste products but can also reduce the need to catch wild fish as a source of Omega-3. The business estimates that one tonne of its algae produces the same amount of Omega-3 as 30 tonnes of wild fish.

Mr Martin, who gained an undergraduate degree in biotechnology from the University of Pretoria, first became interested in working with algae after seeing it bloom while he was working on an offshore wind farm off the coast of Germany.

Andrew Vernon, managing director of Hillhouse Group, said: “Through the application of biotechnology, MiAlgae is finding solutions to feed the world’s population, and with the global aquaculture industry set to double in size in the next ten years, this is a very promising business.”