Skretting is to begin testing Unibio’s novel protein, Uniprotein, as a feed ingredient for fish and shrimp feed.
Unibio and Skretting met through the FEED-X program, the purpose of which is to significantly reduce feed-related environmental impacts, by adopting alternative feed ingredients and feed-related technologies into value chains for aquaculture. The FEED-X program is supported by Skretting, IKEA, WWF and other partners.
Unibio has core competences in microbial fermentation technologies. Through collaboration with the Technical University of Denmark and others, it has developed a range of technologies under the U-Loop brand, which allow large-scale conversion of methane using methanotrophic microbes into a protein product for use in feed.
Henrik Busch Larsen, CEO, Unibio, expects that testing phase to be undertaken by Skretting to last around 10 months. “We are testing on more than one species.”
Should those trials demonstrate that Uniprotein’s use in fish and shrimp feed is effective, he said the plan is that Skretting and Unibio would then move into negotiating a purchase contract.
Unibio and its partners, though, would need to invest millions of dollars to build the production capacity needed to realize the ambitions of the potential collaboration.
Financing to date
The SCP producer has raised about US$38m to date, which includes soft money financing from grants, said the CEO: “We always prioritize having sufficient capital resources, but we are not formally in the capital market presently.”
In December last year, we reported that Unibio had partnered with and raised capital from Mitsubishi Corporation, Japan’s largest trading company, with a view to furthering the global roll-out of the Danish company’s production technology.
When asked for an update on that tie-up, Busch Larsen told us:
“The partnership is developing well. Mitsubishi Corporation has a dedicated team attached to Unibio, and we are looking at developing and progressing the relationship. It is still in the early phase though.”
Unibio, said the CEO, is continuing to see a lot of interest in its technology.
“The interest has not faded in spite of the current global situation – we believe that sustainable food tech solutions will also be in high demand in the post COVID-19 world.”
The first full-scale Uniprotein production plant, constructed and operated by Unibio’s partner Protelux, is being commissioned in Russia.
Last year the company announced plans to build construction facilities in places as far apart as Texas and Saudi Arabia. What is the status on those?
“We are progressing on most of our other projects, some taking slightly more time, but others are speeding up. Once you have established good relations with partners it is amazing how much can be done via video conference,” said Busch Larsen.