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Finish startup raises €0.7 million to produce high-quality insect proteins

Thursday, June 17, 2021

A spinoff startup from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Volare, raised €0.7 million in funding from Maki.vc. The company uses food production side streams, such as non-edible parts of grains, to produce high-quality insect proteins and oils to replace other animal proteins, soy and palm oil. It is the largest investment to a company in the insect sector in Finland. 

“Our goal is to radically reduce the environmental load of the food chain. A positive impact can be achieved on an industrial scale. Our production makes use of upcycling, which is a circular economy at its purest. The value of the upcycled material grows without any waste,” said Volare co-founder, CTO Matti Tähtinen.

Insect proteins are an ecological alternative as a raw material for fish feed since they can replace materials, such as soy protein, a source of significant adverse environmental impacts. The Volare team has developed a unique method at VTT of producing high-quality proteins and oils from the side streams of the food industry, such as non-edible parts of grains. The method is used to efficiently grow black soldier flies on a commercial scale. The technological solution includes growing the insects and processing them into an industry-compatible end product. 

Commercial-scale plant construction is scheduled to start in 2023

Volare’s solution has attracted interest among the commercial fish feed and pet food manufacturers. The company already has a pilot plant up and running and is aiming for rapid growth. The company’s goal is to start the construction of a commercial-scale production plant in 2023 and subsequently build several plants in Europe every year. 

“Fish feed is produced in enormous plants, and matching one customer’s production volume requires significant investments. We are now starting to establish these partnerships,” said Volare co-founder and CEO, Tuure Parviainen.

Maki.vc as an equity investor

The groundwork for commercializing Volare technology was done at VTT LaunchPad business incubator where they received support for setting up a team and clarifying their vision. It has been important to have an encouraging atmosphere and positive support for a new type of idea, said the entrepreneurs. Other teams have also provided motivation and peer support.

“At Maki.vc, we invest in early-stage deep technology solutions where we see commercial potential. Volare has it in spades: they can turn waste streams into valuable proteins without straining the environment, and their team is an excellent combination of research and customer expertise,” said Paavo Räisänen, investment director at Maki.vc.

In addition to the founders, Jarna Hyvönen, who is experienced in leading circular economy business operations, has joined Volare as Chief Operating Officer. The company already employs six people, and the number of staff will be growing to ten this year.

 

Photo caption: From left to right, Jarna Hyvonen, COO, Tuure Parviainen, CEO, and Matti Tähtinen, CTO at Volare.

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