Running Tide, a global ocean health company that works with nature to remove carbon and restore ecosystems and biodiversity, has been selected to participate in the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2) as one of seven members in the program’s twelfth cohort. IN2 was launched in 2014 by the Wells Fargo Foundation and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) with the goal of de-risking innovations and speeding clean technologies to commercial markets.
“We’re incredibly excited about the potential of connecting with this amazing network of other people who want to save the planet,” says Running Tide Vice President of Biotechnology Rishi R. Masalia, PhD. “This is the biggest challenge of our lifetimes, and no single company, government, or expert is going to fix this problem; it’s going to take everybody.”
New to the Neighborhood
Running Tide’s headquarters is located in Portland, Maine, but Masalia moved the company’s biotechnology hub to BRDG Park earlier this year. As a company that focuses on the ocean, he says he often gets the question: why here? What inspires a company like Running Tide to bring the core of their scientific work to the heartland instead of a coastal location?
“The answer is community,” Masalia says. “What brought us to St. Louis is 39 North.” Running Tide is a global company, so the priority was not to be situated in any one single coastal location. The priority was to go where the science would be best supported—and that was here, in 39 North. “In addition to space, ready-made labs, equipment, and resources, there is talent,” he says. “The concentration of people here who work in plant science is so high, and there is a huge range of experience, from graduate students to industry veterans.”
Working with the Ocean
Running Tide’s carbon removal technology works by moving carbon from the fast cycle to the slow cycle, amplifying and accelerating the ocean’s natural biological carbon pump. Their multi-pathway system involves terrestrial biomass sinking, ocean alkalinity enhancement, and finally marine biomass (algae) growing and sinking, the latter being what Masalia and his team focus on. Here, algae will photosynthesize and grow in the surface ocean on a carbon buoy. As the buoy becomes saturated with water, they sink passively to the deep ocean, where that carbon becomes part of the slow cycle and can be locked away for hundreds to thousands of years.
Running Tide’s goal is to work with the ocean, not against it. They have teams of scientists covering biology, oceanography, biogeochemistry, ecology, and more, all focused on working to ensure that Running Tide’s technology avoids any inadvertent harm. Healing the ocean is an important part of the process.
The wide variety of specialists who work with Running Tide is part of what inspires Masalia every day. “Solving climate change requires so many different disciplines,” he says “I think that is what motivates all of us at Running Tide—digging deep to solve a problem bigger than yourself.”