Finnish insect startup getting ready to scale up production

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Artist rendered illustration of new facility © Volare
Artist rendered illustration of new facility © Volare

Related tags Finland VTT black soldier fly larvae

Insect ingredient producer, Volare, a spinoff from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, is set to build its first industrial scale plant.

The site of the commercial faciliity will be located in Järvenpää, Finland. When opened, the new plant will produce about 5,000 tons of Black Soldier Fly (BSF) derived protein and lipids annually.

The Finnish insect producer said it is not disclosing the operational date of the new facility or the total cost of the build just yet.

However, CEO of Volare, Tuure Parviainen, told us the company has ambitions plans: it aims to operate numerous production sites across Europe by 2030. "Volare employs 15 people directly and has an extensive network of advisors and external professionals advancing the development of facilities."

The startup uses food production side streams as rearing substrates for the BSF larvae, including oat husks, potato trimmings and distillates from the brewing industry. Food industry side streams are nearly limitless in scope, said the producer. “Current estimates put the amount of available raw material at some 90 million tons per year — in the EU alone.”

Low environmental impact

And Volare's team claim the environmental impact of insect production is negligible compared to conventional protein and oil feed raw materials, producing only a fraction of the emissions of those other inputs.

Moreover, said Parviainen, the company has developed and patented a process to produce protein and oil from BSF arvae without a significant addition of water. "Because of this, the process takes substantially less energy than other similar methods and results in a 50% lower operating cost."

Applications for Volare’s BSF derived products range from pet food to aqua feed, from cosmetics to oleochemical applications and organic fertilizers. 

“Our demonstration plant is fully operational, and already serves customers in aquafeed and pet foods businesses, providing ingredients for targeted product launches and industrial testing.”

Launchpad

Years of research and development into insect-related technologies preceded the company's founding as an independent entity, and Volare said its team of engineers, agronomists, operators, and researchers is now building on those decades of experience.

The groundwork on the Volare technology was carried out at the VTT Launchpad business incubator. The founders came together while researching an ultra-efficient way to keep nutrients in the food chain.  Upon spinning off from VTT, the owners of Volare acquired all the insect-related technologies that had been developed.

"Volare’s technology and the opportunities it offers are an excellent example of how VTT provides a platform to tackle major global challenges and create exponential hope,”​ said Lotta Partanen, manager of that Finnish incubator program, in 2021.

In June 2021, Volare announced ​that it had raisd €0.7m in a funding round led by Helsinki based seed stage venture capitalist firm, Maki.vc.

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