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Fuelling a Passion for Restoring Marine Ecosystems

Archireef photo

Image credit: Paul Sedille / Archireef


I find it fulfilling to bring a research product into a commercial avenue for a greater cause, and that's for our environment.


Miss Virko YU

Ms Vriko YU
Co-founder and CEO of Archireef
PhD candidate at
the School of Biological Sciences

Since her childhood, a deep love for the sea has been rooted in Vriko’s heart, immersing herself in the enchanting underwater world and adoring the vastness of the sea. This profound connection has shaped her path in unimaginable ways, leading her to pursue PhD studies in marine science and co-establish the world's first 3D-printed Reef Tile to restore degraded marine ecosystems. Driven by a powerful epiphany and steadfast determination, she embarked on a journey to find innovative solutions. This interview uncovers her captivating tale of discovery and unwavering commitment to sustainable development, one step at a time.


‘I was born and raised in Hong Kong in the 90s,’ reminisced Vriko Yu, the CEO of Archireef. ‘It was a fascinating time, especially in Hong Kong, as I witnessed both the development and the preservation of nature. Spending significant time in nature during my childhood showed me the possibility of sustainable development in an urbanised city without compromising our natural capital.’

Image credit: Archireef

Creating a Nature-Positive Future
‘My epiphany moment occurred in 2014,’ Vriko revealed with a hint of sadness. ‘I witnessed a small patch of coral community disappear in just two months. That experience and first-hand  observations of climate change solidified my dedication to restoring degraded marine ecosystems, with a particular focus on coral reefs.’ 
She further explained, ‘Working closely with my supervisor, Professor David BAKER at School of Biological Sciences of The University of Hong Kong, I initiated my PhD research and co-developed a research product in collaboration with Ms Lidia RATOI and Mr Christian LANGE at Faculty of Architecture. I then co-founded Archireef as a vehicle to bridge the gap between research ideas into  commercial solutions. This endeavour allowed me to combine impactful ideas with a strong research foundation developed.’
Revitalising Marine Life with Reef Tiles
‘Our innovative solution is elegantly simple,’ Vriko stated confidently. ‘We create earth-friendly, clay-based, 3D-printed clay tiles, which we call reef tiles. These tiles are a suitable substrate for corals and other marine life to thrive. Beyond providing a habitat for corals, they create micro crevices and microhabitats for diverse marine biodiversity, including fish, crabs, tiny shrimp, and snails.’
She emphasised, ‘Coral restoration is not limited to the reefs themselves; it extends to the associated   biodiversity. Our research team at HKU aims to solve a local problem while developing an adaptable and  scalable solution to address global coral degradation.’
Vriko passionately expressed, ‘Our goal is to create a positive future for nature, where everyone, not just those in academia or conservation, can contribute to the restoration of our marine ecosystems.’
Image credit: Archireef
Restoring Nature's Beauty, One Tile at a Time
Reflecting on their accomplishments, Vriko shared, ‘When we first deployed the 3D-printed reef tiles with the support of the Hong Kong government in 2019, it was a pivotal moment. Returning to the site three months later, we were thrilled to find that not only were the corals surviving, but we also achieved a remarkable 95% survivorship rate after three years. This is at least four times higher than traditional methods.’
She added with a sense of fulfilment, ‘Beyond the corals, we have witnessed the return of marine life, with snails, fish, and other creatures colonising the area. It's not just about the coral; it's about the tangible and measurable impact we're generating, especially in bringing back biodiversity.’
As Vriko and her team at Archireef continue their journey towards a nature-positive future, their innovative solution and dedication to restoring marine ecosystems inspire us to consider sustainable development and preserving our natural capital. 
Raising Awareness of Environmental Responsibility
As the global trend towards Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) continues to gain momentum, Vriko's innovative solutions offer a proactive approach to bringing positive impact to the environment. By providing nature-based financial disclosure, Archireef is helping both corporate clients to understand the impact they can have on the environment and contribute back in a tangible and positive way.
‘When it comes to the nature, it is not really owned by a single entity, but it is heavily embedded in our daily lives and business operations. I think ESG is a new matrix for everyone to understand the impact they can have within their value chain,’ Virko concluded. 



Website of Archireef

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