Circular Organics receives €400,000 research funding from Belgian government

Belgium, 31 July 2020

Circular Organics, part of the Insect Technology Group, begins ‘Encaps2Control’ research project.

We are pleased to announce that our Circular Organics Research & Development team, led by Dr Stefaan Depraetere, have commenced the ‘Encaps2Control’ (E2C) project focused on developing novel and sustainable encapsulation technology.

Our team forms part of a broader group of researchers from Kemin, DCM, Ghent University, and the University of Antwerp, led by Chemstream. Circular Organics will focus specifically on developing encapsulation agents based on chitin derived from black soldier fly larvae. The research carried out in Turnhout, our European technology development and validation centre, will look to address current limitations of additive usage by increasing their bioavailability within animal feed. Encapsulation of additives is a technique that acts as a barrier, protecting the additives and slowly releasing their active component over time. In addition, the work will also research the encapsulation of organic fertilisers that should result in slower chemical, physical and microbiological decomposition leading to controlled release of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

The chitin derived building blocks of this technology are non-toxic and offer the potential for a more sustainable alternative to options currently used as they are biodegradable. They may also possess additional positive characteristics including anti-microbial properties.

Coordinated by ChemStream, the total aggregate budget for all participants is €3.7 million, with Circular Organics receiving just under €400,000 in subsidies for its budgeted work of €800,000. The project will last a total of 36 months, with all participants contributing in excess of 360 person-months to the project’s activities.

The Circular Organics team is excited to play an active role in advancing this research and is thankful to the Flemish government for its support.


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World’s largest insect protein firm sets its sights on Europe

London, Antwerp, 3 December 2018

FLY-FARMER and insect technology pioneer AgriProtein, named as one of TIME magazine’s Top 50 Genius Companies, has agreed to an all-share acquisition of Belgian insect feed company Millibeter N.V. (subject to shareholder approval).

AgriProtein will fund the construction of the first full-scale Millibeter factory in Belgium.

Operating from the Open Manufacturing campus in Turnhout, Antwerp, insect nutrient recyclers Millibeter use the black soldier fly to convert EU-approved organic substrates, such as vegetable waste, into valuable products for the feed and pharmaceutical industries.

Millibeter CEO Johan Jacobs leads a team of entomologists, organic chemists and engineers who will become the nucleus of a new AgriProtein European R&D hub.

Jason Drew, AgriProtein CEO, said: “We look forward to welcoming Millibeter into the AgriProtein family. It will accelerate our EU expansion, adding an experienced team who will bring complementary technologies to our growing business”.

Jacobs added: “The team at Millibeter are excited to join AgriProtein and add value to their global project roll-out plans and R&D programs. We have always believed in the potential of the organic nutrient recycling market in Europe. This investment is a significant vote of confidence in that industry”.

The acquisition by AgriProtein is back-to-back with a cash investment by the Innovation Fund and other Belgian investors into Millibeter.

François Cornelis, Chairman of the Innovation Fund, said: “We believe that Millibeter will become a major player in the circular economy in the Benelux region, following our investment and the agreed friendly takeover”.

AgriProtein will now build multiple plants in the region and base its European R&D centre in Belgium.

The Innovation Fund also offers AgriProtein unparalleled access to its network of specialty chemical and life sciences companies.

In addition to the previously announced joint venture with Sustainable Protein in the Netherlands, this gives AgriProtein a strong presence in the Benelux region. The acquisition will cement AgriProtein’s position as the world’s leading up-cycler of organic substrate to protein.

AgriProtein raised USD 105 million in June 2018 and is building a global business through its circular economy model: upcycling organic substrate into insect protein. AgriProtein uses black soldier flies and their larvae to convert these organics into a high-protein alternative to fishmeal for use in aquaculture feeds.

Drew said: “The company has recently expanded its R&D capability to over 45 people based in its state-of-the-art chemistry and genetics laboratories in Cape Town. It has also hired senior staff from engineering and organic substrate management backgrounds to increase its project roll-out capacity. The company is focusing on the aquafeed market, where demand is increasing year on year to satisfy increasing consumer demand for farmed fish”.

Worth over USD 100 billion in 2017, the aquafeed industry is predicted to more than double by 2026. (Source: Reuters/MRC Stratistics, March 2018).

Said Drew: “There is simply not enough marine material left in the oceans to meet fishmeal demand in aquafeed, let alone in other markets. Along with algae and bacteria, new, disruptive sources of protein like our own are needed to close the feed gap and, in the process, help repair the future of the planet”.