A Nelson-based research company says it has broken into a new and lucrative export market with a product that could earn millions of dollars.
The Cawthron Institute has managed to extract tiny amounts of a complex organic compound from algae that is used in research and pharmaceuticals.
Cawthron acting chief executive Daryl Wehner says the compound sells for about 50,000 times the price of gold and a level teaspoon is worth several million dollars.
He says the company has earned more than $250,000 in the first nine months from sales including one in which a US purchaser paid more than $45,000 for 10mg of the product.
Mr Wehner says more large orders are lined up. He says the institute, which employs more than 180 staff, is one of only a few places in the world able to extract the compound.