Elliot Roth, CEO of Spira, is developing a commercial drink made from living spirulina. Photo courtesy Mark Gormus/Times-Dispatch

Elliot Roth, CEO of Spira, is developing a commercial drink made from living spirulina. Photo courtesy Mark Gormus/Times-Dispatch

kdropcapsatie Demeria at the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Virginia native Elliot Roth wants people to drink spirulina.“It’s a highly efficient food source, and it can grow practically anywhere,” says Mr. Roth, a 2015 graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and founder and CEO of Spira, a biotechnology company with a goal of getting spirulina into the hands of people who need it – “even if they don’t know they need it yet,” he says. Their first product, a live spirulina-based drink, is also called Spira.

Mr. Roth launched Spira, the company, in March of this year to harness spirulina’s nutritional benefit and make it widely available to the general public. Soon after its launch, it was accepted into IndieBio, a synthetic biology accelerator that works with companies attempting to meet the world’s challenges through biology.

IndieBio meant moving Spira’s operations to Ireland from the beginning of May through the end of July. The program doled out $100,000 to the young company, half of which was dedicated to program fees and the other half was capital for Spira to use to launch.

Spira is now back in Richmond, this time enrolled in locally-based Lighthouse Labs, a business accelerator program that offers grants and mentorship to new companies, for a three-month stint. The fall program, which began Aug. 15, is being held in the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s 1E small-business collaborative workspace.

Along with $20,000 in capital, Lighthouse Labs will provide Spira the chance to find out what the U.S. public thinks of its drink – and start brainstorming other ways spirulina could help those in need throughout the world.

Spira’s drink has about 2 grams of the algae in it, more than most other health drinks that have spirulina, such as Naked Juice Co.’s Green Machine juice smoothie – which has 1,335 milligrams of spirulina, according to the company’s website. Mr. Roth said he plans to eventually add even more spirulina to Spira drinks. Spira also aims to keep the spirulina alive while in the bottle, making it a probiotic with more nutrition.

“The drink is just the beginning,” Mr. Roth said in July while he, chief scientific officer Trevor Nicks and chief technology officer Hunter Casbeer were in Ireland. “Eventually, Spira will expand into the business of helping people grow their own spirulina and work to combat malnutrition on a global scale,” he said.

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