Case 10.3: oceanBASIS - natural cosmetics and food from seaweed - Germany

Detailed Information

Name of the company: oceanBASIS GmbH

Country: Germany

Size of the business: 20 employees



In 1994, CRM – Coastal Research & Management was founded in Kiel, Germany, by experts of marine ecology and economy. The aim of the company is the protection and the sustainable utilisation of the sea and the coastal zone. CRM conducted environmental studies and projects for private and public clients. Different studies about the impact of aquaculture on the aquatic environment have led to the development and establishment of the first seaweed farm in the Baltic Sea, followed by the first certified organic mussel farm in the Baltic Sea demonstrating the principles of Integrated Multitrophic Aquaculture (IMTA). In 2000, the first biomass produced was Saccharina latissima, the sugar kelp, which served as the basic material for the development of two bioactive extracts for the cosmetics industry, and for own natural cosmetics line. A seaweed processing chain was established, including algae-specific adaption of disruption, extraction as well as filtration technologies. Since 2005 CRM has specialised also in investigating marine natural substances, i.e. different seaweed extracts as antiviral and antitumoral agents. Since 2012, bioinformatics research has been established as a new field of R&D and service at CRM exploiting algal genomic resources for bio-industrial purposes.

First successful seaweed cultivation and application of the processing chain initiated the foundation of oceanBASIS GmbH in 2001 aiming at the development, marketing and sales of bioactive skin care extracts and natural cosmetics derived from sustainably used marine organisms. The first skin care products (“Baltic Care”) containing a new fermented seaweed extract was launched in 2002. In 2009 the brand name changed to “Oceanwell” and the marketing has been professionalised with the help of a marketing agency. Furthermore, “Oceanwell” received the NATRUE-certification as “natural cosmetics”. In 2010, company patented a native collagen isolated from a jellyfish. While the technical development of two medical products on the basis of the jellyfish collagen – a wound gel and a bioscaffold – was successful and oceanBASIS gained valuable knowledge on quality management (ISO 13485), the market introduction failed. In 2012, the brand “Oceanwell” was expanded by the sub-line “Ocean Collagen”, the first skin care on the basis of a native collagen from a marine invertebrate organism. In 2014, a near shore integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) facility was separated from company and established as a separate limited liability company “Kieler Meeresfarm UG”. Its facilities were extended with a research module for cultivating microalgae and bladderwrack.

Main activities

Revenue is created by sales of bioactive extracts for the cosmetics industry, as well as by sales of natural skin care products and food (supplement) products. Main activities are developing, marketing and sales of these products. Side activity is R&D in Marine Biotechnology. Focus of oceanBASIS is the manufacturing cosmetics products and ingredients from sustainably produced marine living resources. The brand “Oceanwell” is the only marine cosmetic brand, which is certified as “natural cosmetics”. The company holds two patents on jellyfish collagen and one application on an antitumoral extract.


Customers are distributors of skin care products or directly the end consumers. In case of bioactive seaweed extracts, the manufacturers of skin care products are customers as well. Costumers are reached via the direct offers, online marketing, e-commerce, social media, PR and exhibitions.

Company has also used the unconventional marketing strategies, especially via online channels. The marketing budget is relatively low compared to other cosmetic brands. Marketing is supported by the fact that natural cosmetics are a growing market in Germany.

Challenges and solutions

The natural cosmetics market is well developed in Germany. The company sees a good potential in further expanding the share of the brand “Oceanwell”. In the future, they would like to grow in a way that is allowing them to work as a productive, self-determined organisation doing meaningful work by fostering a healthy society and the environment.

The biggest problems for the business development are: reaching the bioactives market, because there are only a handful of relevant players dominating it, and reaching the customers as a newbie in the natural cosmetics market.


oceanBASIS is performing its business financially independently. In the beginning, public funding was received in order to establish the seaweed farm and a B2B IT infrastructure. Support has been received from the public sector for R&D projects and exhibitions as well.

What makes this case innovative?

The case represents innovative use and R&D in aquatic biomass. As the oceans harbour an immense wealth of natural substances, oceanBASIS specializes on utilizing those in developing marine based natural health and wellness products and marine products for food industry. A team of experienced marine biologists and natural product experts develop and market products for cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries. Natural cosmetics are based on mainly bio degradable compounds and free of microplastics which comes with a lot of environmental benefits. oceanBASIS thereby complies with strict sustainability and quality criteria.

Other related Business Cases

Case 10.1: Est-Agar – sustainable enhancement of the red algae Furcellaria lumbricalis – Estonia

Case 10.2: SatiMed – wellness and health products from the hemp plant – Lithuania

Case 8.1: Aloja Starkelsen – organic starch and plant-based products for home and industrial application – Latvia 

Case 8.2: Lilli Agro – organic straw pellets for animal bedding – Estonia

Case 11.1: Borregaard – production of sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives to petrochemicals – Norway

Case 11.2: Emsland Group – sustainability through ‘using nature to create’ – Germany

Newest business articles
Model 1: Heat and Fuel from Woody Biomass
This Business Model type was formed by processing companies using woody biomass aiming to substitute fossil-based energy resources. More specifically, it represented two types of enterprise […]
Model 2: Fuel and Electricity from Biogas
The type is formed by processing companies aiming to replace fossil energy, but what sets it apart from the previous type that used woody biomass for solid fuels, is different biomass input […]
Model 3: District Heating and Electricity from Various Biomass Sources
This Business Model type is based on five enterprises that use waste and other various sources of biomass for the production of heat and electricity, and bioethanol (one company). It is set […]