VTT, a Finish research, development and innovation partner, launched a deep-tech incubator, LaunchPad, that support game-changing startups with strong scientific background. The incubator includes two ventures, Enifer Bio and Volare, that aims at producing sustainable fish feed ingredients.
Fish farm food from a fast-growing micro-fungus
Enifer Bio's solution is based on the use of diluted side streams from the agro and forest industries. In the past, the forest industry produced large volumes of spent sulfite liquor. A unique process was developed in Finland to grow a micro-fungus called Paecilomyces variotii in the liquor which could then be used as animal feed. "The practice was abandoned, as the pulp industry evolved so that no more liquor was produced. Other industrial sectors, however, are still producing similar side streams. We have now modernized the process and begun to use it to produce fish feed. Both investors and suppliers have shown interest in the idea and we are currently in negotiations about setting up a production line in Finland," explained senior scientist, Simo Ellilä from VTT.
Enifer Bio has its sights set on the global market. The team is working on making the technique compatible with, for example, sugarcane vinasse, which could open up a market worth €3 billion in Brazil alone.
Animal feed from potato peels and stale bread
Volare is focused on the valorization of food-industry by-products such as potato peels and stale bread, but almost any ingredient can be used as long as it complies with the law.
"We can turn these ingredients into affordable animal feed with a composition that satisfies the regulations. This also helps to reduce waste. There are enough ingredients to build a business worth several hundreds of millions of euros in the Nordic countries. Of course, we ultimately want to go global," explained VTT's research scientist, Tuure Parviainen. The company is currently piloting the technology. The next step is to build a large-scale prototype and explore commercial options.
VTT LaunchPad consists of seven teams which work with validated technologies. The incubator aims at understanding customers' needs and how to meet them as well as ways to test their product. VTT LaunchPad helps the teams to seek funding for their business.