Press release / 2 September 2021

Finnish company Volare invests one million euros to food technology - the target is to build a fully automated protein factory

Volare already has a pilot plant in operation, and will now speed up the plant development with 1 million EUR investment. The company was granted a selective Business Finland Aid worth 450 000 euros. The plant will be a new kind of insect protein factory.

Volare received funding from the Finnish venture capital fund Maki.vc earlier this year and has now been selected to receive a Business Finland Circular aid worth 450 000 EUR to support the investments.

“Investing in the pilot plant is an important step towards the large scale change we want to create. With this plant we can demonstrate just how innovative and efficient our process is and can move on to doing things on a commercial scale,” says Volare co-founder, CTO Matti Tähtinen.

At the pilot plant in Hyvinkää Volare receives food industry side streams, such as the inedible parts of grains from mills. These are used as the raw ingredients in the process where black soldier fly larvae turn them into high-quality protein and lipids in just a few weeks. The process is automated and hence the products can be manufactured efficiently in very large quantities. Rather than human foods, these proteins and lipids will be used as feeds, pet foods and cosmetics.

The European fish feed and pet food industries use increasing amounts of protein. The annual value of the markets is approximately 30 BEUR. The current sources of protein include soy, animal proteins and fish meal, which are environmentally problematic, contributing to climate change, overfishing, and deforestation. Hence, new nutrient sources are needed to meet the growing demand and combat the adverse environmental effects.

The problem calls for systemic solutions that can change entire production chains, meaning that efficiency at large scale is a necessity. Volare’s pilot plant demonstrates sophisticated automation that enables efficiency in large scale production. The founders of the company have several years of experience in developing the processes at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

Selective Business Finland grant boosts investments

The Investment aid for the circular economy is a one-off selective scheme of Business Finland. The organization received 164 applications and the amount of funding requested in the project proposals was as high as 284 millions EUR where the funding available for the application round was 17 millions EUR.

“We evaluated a large number of applications - Volare’s solution stood out due to its exceptional innovativeness and environmental advantages on two different fronts. The solution both solves a food industry side stream problem and creates a highly sustainable feed ingredient for the animal feed industry. We see that this solution can make a very large positive impact, and look forward to seeing the initiative realized" says Kati Oikarinen, Advisor at Business Finland.

Volare was among the few companies selected to receive the aid, with an investment project of more than 1 million EUR. The funding rate being 45%, the grant sums up to more than 450 000 EUR.

Commercial plant building planned to start in 2023

The pilot plant is only the first step on the company’s production roadmap. The Volare team is already looking into the building of a commercial scale plant to increase the amount of proteins and lipids it can produce.

“To give an idea of the size of a commercial plant, it can feed for instance 4.75 million salmon per year. That alone has a significant environmental impact as our emissions per a kilogram of protein powder produced is neglibledge compared to the traditional protein sources,” says Volare co-founder, CEO Tuure Parviainen.

The company’s goal is to start the construction of a commercial scale production plant in 2023 and to subsequently build several plants in Europe every year.