"ExxonMobil and Craig Venter, the pioneer of human genome research, have set up a $600m partnership to research the potential for making biofuels from algae. Mr Venter told the Financial Times that the joint venture was "critical for the whole world" but warned that commercial deployment could be 10 years away. "There has been so much hype and hope about the potential for algae that this announcement should act as a reality check for everyone," said Mr Venter…But while Mr Venter, like other biotech entrepreneurs and big oil companies including Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron, has been able to produce small amounts of oil from algae, no-one has yet managed to demonstrate the process at a large enough scale or a low enough cost…Mr Venter said he expected that the algae used would have to be genetically modified. Over time, engineered products will be essential to this project, said Mr Venter. "It's the only way we can change the yield far beyond nature, and make the algae resistant to virus attacks and so on."…"
In the United Kingdom, this work is being funded directly by Central Government, as witnessed by the tiny little footnote in the Low Carbon Transition Plan published on 15th July 2009 :-
"This includes £20 million investment to launch the Sustainable Bioenergy Centre; £6 million for the Advanced Bioenergy Directed Research Accelerator investigating the potential of algae for biofuels; and an intention to provide financial support for the creation by industry of a biofuels demonstration plant, which would use organic waste material to produce bioethanol and renewable power."