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Breeding microalgae in a predominantly-heterotrophic mixotrophic environment is achieved by introducing short bursts of low intensity lighting. As a result, not only do the microalgae feed off organic substrates to create large quantities of biomass just as they would in a heterotrophic environment, but their chloroplasts and other light-capturing organelles (photoreceptors) are also activated. This increases the productivity of each cell as well as allowing the synthesis of all of the molecules that can be metabolized by microalgae.

Back in 2007, and before the creation of Fermentalg, Pierre Calleja filed a patent for breeding microalgae under heterotrophic conditions. Since 2009, Fermentalg has regularly filed patents to protect the technology it has developed for breeding microalgae in a predominantly-heterotrophic mixotrophic environment using flash pyrolysis.

Because it produces algae-sourced molecules that combine the benefits of both autotrophy and heterotrophy, breeding microalgae in a predominantly-heterotrophic mixotrophic environment is a 4th generation cultivation process that offers potential performance yields that are compatible with prices on Fermentalg’s target markets
The only company from the Aquitaine region to win the award for innovative business start-ups (Concours National de Création d’Entreprise Innovante) from the French Ministry of Research in 2009, Fermentalg was awarded a €400,000 subsidy to finance its research and development.

In 2012, its joint venture with Sofiprotéol to industrialize, produce and market algae-sourced EPAs and DHAs went on to win the Cleantech Award for Best Partnership between an Innovative SME and a Large Group presented by French Private Equity Association, AFIC (Association Française des Investisseurs en Capital), and Ernst & Young.
Thanks to Fermentalg, microalgae breeding has become an economically-viable process that offers high yields of biomass and molecules of interest and uses low-cost industrial by-products as production substrates.