Mankind has recognized the value of land plants as renewable sources of food, medicine, and materials for millennia. Throughout human history, agricultural methods were continuously modified and improved to meet the changing needs of civilization. Today, our rapidly growing population requires further innovation to address the practical limitations and serious environmental concerns associated with current industrial and agricultural practices. Microalgae are a diverse group of unicellular photosynthetic organisms that are emerging as next-generation resources with the potential to address urgent industrial and agricultural demands. The extensive biological diversity of algae can be leveraged to produce a wealth of valuable bioproducts, either naturally or via genetic manipulation. Microalgae additionally possess a set of intrinsic advantages, such as low production costs, no requirement for arable land, and the capacity to grow rapidly in both large-scale outdoor systems and scalable, fully contained photobioreactors. Here, we review technical advancements, novel fields of application, and products in the field of algal biotechnology to illustrate how algae could present high-tech, low-cost, and environmentally friendly solutions to many current and future needs of our society. We discuss how emerging technologies such as synthetic biology, high-throughput phenomics, and the application of internet of things (IoT) automation to algal manufacturing technology can advance the understanding of algal biology and, ultimately, drive the establishment of an algal-based bioeconomy.