“We have great life scientists, chemists or IT specialists. If we can manage to encourage and put them into businesses, the Polish economy would get a huge innovation kick” – says Noemi Malska, Member of the Board and COO at HiProMine S.A

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Noemi Malska: We have great life scientists, chemists or IT specialists. If we can manage to encourage and put them into businesses, the Polish economy would get a huge innovation kick – says Noemi Malska, Member of the Board and COO at HiProMine S.A.

Are insects disgusting for you?

Not at all, they tend to be delightful and very tasty.

Did you try them on a holiday in Thailand?

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence… but no, I tasted insects from our own production.

And?

 The dried ones tasted like salty sticks, while those roasted in caramel/cinnamon flavor may become a fantastic alternative for crisps. But both types are very healthy.

Is the potential of insects reduced only to the kitchen?

No, it is almost unlimited. Insects are an inexhaustible source of substances that can be used in medicine, pharmacy, cosmetics and chemical industries. And at HiProMine, we start with a series of products for the animal feed and fertilizer markets. We are generally developing technologies related to the production of insect meal that can be an alternative to a fish meal in aquaculture production. In addition, we also work on a technology to produce bio-fuels and oils from insects for applications in the animal fodder production and on fertilizer based on insect faeces. It is a good, ecological alternative to the chemical fertilizers.

Where is the plant located?

It is in Robakowo near Poznań. The plant was opened in August last year. At the moment, the entire insect production is used for our internal purposes. We have 30 species of insects on which we run research and tests in order to find the best technology for extraction of numerous substances.

Research and tests are expensive. Where does the funding come from?

The originators of the company have managed to attract attention of investors at a very early stage of the project. StartVenture@Poland and Giza Polish Ventures funds have decided to support the project. The company also received a grant from the National Centre for Research and Development under the “Fast Track” program.

It’s not that easy to obtain funding for startups?

That’s right, just like it is difficult for investors to acquire a good project. With hundreds of ideas from the entire region of Central and Eastern Europe, with which SVP fund dealt in 2015, HiProMine was one of only 8 projects that have raised funding.

What attracted the attention of investors?

With no doubt, a combination of potential market development and the know-how, extensive knowledge and experience of scientists who stand behind this project. The CEO of HiProMine, PhD. Damian Józefiak, prof. associate at the University of Life Sciences in Poznań, is an expert in the field of animal nutrition. Working at the same university, PhD. Jan Mazurkiewicz is an expert in fish breeding and feeding. On the other hand, dr. Jakub Urbański is a biologist with large business experience as the founder of the most innovative start-up of the year 2010.

And from a business point of view?

Insect meal is an excellent alternative to fish meal, prices of which have rocketed recently. Almost one third of the fish caught is processed into meal, which is then used to feed farmed fish. This means that fish stock is severely depleted and fishermen need to go further into the sea. All these factors are reflected in the surging prices.

How much of this insect derived protein your plant can produce?

Mass production should start next year. Ultimately, a square meter of production area is to give an average of approx. 160 kg of live insects per month (depending on the species of insects – from 100 to 220 kg). From that amount we are able to produce approx. 30 kg of pure proteins and use it as meal in  trout or salmon feeding. Some Norwegian companies are very interested to have our products. Besides, we have also queries from markets such as Turkey, Russia or even India.

Is it the only way to use insect protein? Feeding the fish?

Of course not. Insect protein is also increasingly used in feeding other animals and humans. At this moment it can be used as a component of fodder for dogs and cats. The next step – after the registration of the use of insect protein in aquaculture (the legislative process is under-way in the European Commission) – insect meal will probably be admitted in feeding of poultry and pigs. Insect-derived products will also find applications in cosmetics or pharmaceutical.

Where will the company be in a few years time?

We will be the European market leader in the innovative solutions for industrial breeding and processing of insects, with a strong presence also on the other markets. This is thanks to the scope of our research, technology we are developing and potential applications for our products. We want to be one of the key technology providers for the industrial production of high valued insect protein as well as a leader in the processing and obtaining of insect-derived products that can be used in the animal feeding, cosmetic or pharmaceutical field.

June 6 – 12, 2016, PolandWeek