French start-up Fairbrics opens pilot lab at BlueChem-incubator for sustainable chemistry in Antwerp to turn CO2 into textile fibres

Converting captured CO2 into high-quality polyester textile fibres and into valuable raw materials for use in packaging and car parts. French start-up Fairbrics intends to further refine this pioneering technology at BlueChem, the incubator for sustainable chemistry in Antwerp. The company today inaugurated a unique pilot lab there to scale up the complex chemical process to industrial levels. After UK company Aquature earlier this year, it is already the second international company to decisively choose BlueChem to make the crucial leap from the lab to industrial applications with sustainable innovations.

 

Founded in Paris in 2019, Fairbrics has spent the last few years developing a process to convert captured CO2 into raw materials for textiles, packaging and the automotive sector. For example, it can produce high-quality polyester, a widely used material for clothing production. To do this, Fairbrics uses a circular production process, based on molecular chemistry and powered by renewable energy, which means that CO2 is no longer emitted but is a sustainable alternative to replace fossil feedstock.

 

At BlueChem, Fairbrics has set up a test laboratory to further refine and demonstrate the industrial scale-up of this promising technology. The first innovation steps have been taken in France in recent years, but Fairbrics thus intends to take the decisive step towards the industrial and commercial production phase at BlueChem. There are also plans to build a demonstration plant in the pilot hall of neighbouring pre-incubator BlueApp. This illustrates the complementarity of the two incubators, which focus on sustainable chemistry and circular materials.

International appeal

The innovative power of BlueChem is also gaining international appeal. This year, two leading foreign start-ups have already chosen to settle in the incubator for sustainable chemistry. In addition to Fairbrics, Aquature is a British company specialising in an innovative water treatment technology that removes CO2 from wastewater and captures it for reuse as a raw material. The fact that two international clean & climate tech companies have chosen BlueChem is also thanks to the intensive collaboration between Flanders Investment & Trade, the City of Antwerp, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges, BlueChem (industry federation essenscia, City of Antwerp, POM Antwerp and VITO) and BlueApp (University of Antwerp), among others.

 

Benoît Illy, CEO and co-founder Fairbrics: “After several years of intensive research in Paris, we are now taking an important next step by further scaling up our unique first-of-its-kind technology here at BlueChem in Antwerp. In our pilot lab, we will test and fine-tune prototypes to make our breakthrough innovation in converting CO2 into high value feedstock cost effective and industrially applicable. Fairbrics fits perfectly among the other start-ups working at BlueChem to develop materials and processes that are eco-friendly, energy-efficient, circular and climate-neutral.”

 

Erica Caluwaerts, Antwerp alderman for Economy, Industry and Innovation, and member of BlueChem’s Board of Directors: “With BlueChem, BlueApp and Next Gen Demo, we are building a strong ecosystem for sustainable chemistry in Antwerp. With its establishment in Antwerp, the promising French start-up Fairbrics proves that this ecosystem in Antwerp works for both national and international players. Thanks to this success story, our city is and will remain an attractive European hotspot for sustainable chemistry.”

 

Joy Donné, CEO Flanders Investment & Trade: “Within Flanders Investment and Trade, our mission is to attract innovative companies like Fairbrics who will accelerate Flanders’ transition towards a carbon-circular industry. Fairbric’s technology is a game changer whereby carbon is no longer a problem but a solution. By connecting them to the right actors within our ecosystem we supported them to become part of the largest and most specialized chemical cluster in Europe.”

 

Liesbet Boogaerts and Barbara Veranneman, manager and president of BlueChem: “The arrival of two international start-ups, Aquature and Fairbrics, proves that BlueChem’s formula for success is increasingly resonating on an international level. Nowhere else can you find the unique combination of specialised laboratory infrastructure with tailored support expertise within a strong innovation network in the heart of Europe’s largest chemical cluster. With the planned expansion of BlueChem XL by 2025, we will double our lab capacity to attract even more promising innovation projects from home and abroad.”

 

More info: www.bluechem.be and www.fairbrics.co

 

Relive the event


InOpSys PFAS

Inopsys develops innovative solution to purify water from PFAS

Antwerp scale-up presents promising results in fight against 'Forever Chemicals'

Inopsys, a scale-up with an R&D team at Antwerp incubator BlueChem, is developing an effective and sustainable technology to remove PFAS from water. With support from the city of Antwerp, Inopsys is developing a solution that succeeds in purifying contaminated water better than the most widely applied technology on the market to date.

Inopsys develops promising technology to purify water from PFAS

After months of lab research with support from the city of Antwerp, Inopsys succeeded in applying a successful technology for the purification of water from PFAS. The results of the first tests at the BlueChem lab are promising and the pilot installation at Lantis' Oosterweel yard is scaling up the solution.

Current benchmark technology for PFAS removal

has received increasing attention from policymakers and the general public in recent months. The technology most widely applied today for the removal of PFAS from water - Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) - is reaching its limits. As the scale of the PFAS problem becomes increasingly clear, legal standards are emerging for the maximum amount of PFAS allowed in water discharges that are 100 to 1,000 times more stringent than current standards. For the first time, they will also apply to the most difficult-to-remove PFAS substances. Technological innovations are needed to efficiently meet those standards, and where necessary to contribute to the protection of public health and the environment. Inopsys is fully committed to this.

Innovative power of new treatment technology

The innovative power compared to the benchmark Granular Activated Coal (GAC) is obvious:

  • Inopsys' solution uses adsorbents that can absorb more PFAS, including the most difficult to remove PFAS substances.
  • The technology results in a more compact treatment installation.
  • The adsorbent material is reusable/regenerable, so it does not have to be incinerated after a single use each time. This creates less waste.
  • The technology allows higher rates of PFAS removal, and thus lower outgoing concentrations. This is positive given the upcoming stricter standards.
  • The combination of the foregoing advantages mean that the cost of this innovation is, in most cases, lower than the most commonly used technology to date.

Looking to the future

Inopsys offers full-service PFAS solutions and meanwhile is investing in the future: on the one hand in high-tech analytical and on the other hand in projects to develop innovative technologies to PFAS. "We are proud of this innovation and have the ambition to scale it up further. Inopsys wants to bring to market nationally and internationally a solution that makes an impactful contribution to addressing the urgent PFAS problem" said Steven de Laet, CEO of Inopsys.

Support from the city of Antwerp                                                                                

Inopsys was able to develop this solution with financial support from the City of Antwerp, encouraging innovative start-ups and scale-ups. Thanks to their support, companies can realize essential innovations that would not have been possible otherwise.

The Inopsys laboratories are located in BlueChem, an incubator for sustainable chemistry of which the city of Antwerp is a partner, alongside essenscia, VITO and POM Antwerpen. The success of Inopsys is proof that this incubator is performing well.

Antwerp’s Vice-Mayer : "The fact that this pioneering and globally relevant technology is being developed in Antwerp is magnificent, but obviously no coincidence. For several years, the city has been investing heavily in facilitating sustainable economic innovations. We do this with the realisation of BlueChem but also by supporting innovative developments. And that pays off. In this way, we not only create economic growth and thus prosperity in the city, but also harness the enormous potential of our start-ups in the transition to a sustainable economy as well as addressing environmental and climate challenges."


VIB Bar.on

Start-up Bar.on raises 1.8 million euros for the development of molecular beer

Start-up Bar.on, one of the newest tenants in BlueChem, recently raised 1.8 million euros to develop a new technology for producing planet-friendly beer in just a few seconds.

Every beer has a unique taste and its own story. Moreover, brewing beer is an ancient and traditional process that has become indispensable in today's society. However, according to start-up Bar.on, the beer industry is at a turning point. In view of climate change and the emerging zero waste policy, the industry will also have to adapt. Bar.on has therefore joined forces with VIB (Flemish Institute for Biotechnology) to bring molecular brewing technology to the market. With the necessary technology, flavour cartridges and tap water, consumers can brew beer anytime, anywhere, including non-alcoholic beer.

Bar.on's groundbreaking molecular mixing technology attracted the interest of investors, enabling the start-up to raise a starting capital of no less than 1.8 million euros.

Read the original press release here: https://press.vib.be/belgian-start-up-baron-raises-18-million-euros-to-develop-newtechnology-for-producing-planet-friendly-beer-in-seconds


Steven De Laet - InOpSys

InOpSys starts subsidiary in Basel, Switzerland

InOpSys NV, based in Mechelen and Antwerp (BlueChem), will start a subsidiary in Basel, Switzerland, under the name InOpSys GmbH. The Belgian cleantech company wants to expand on a European scale and is targeting Swiss, German, Irish and French markets.

With Basel as a favourable geographical area, highly qualified experts and a strong commitment to a sustainable future, Switzerland is the ideal location for a European expansion. Basel Area Business & Innovation, the Swiss agency for investment and innovation promotion, supports the establishment process of the growth company.

InOpSys GmbH aims to become an innovative and sustainable industry partner for Swiss chemical and pharmaceutical companies. It will be able to help companies avoid transport and the burning of by-products by reusing water and raw materials.

Last, Steven De Laet, CEO of InOpSys, is also looking to expand into other countries, such as Ireland, Germany, Scandinavian countries and even North America, he previously told Mediaplanet.

More about InOpSys? inopsys.eu


Deloitte-hydrogen

Expert Talks #7: The importance of hydrogen in the transition towards a sustainable future

Deloitte-hydrogen
Source: Deloitte

“The chemical industry is the mother of all industries,” says Deloitte. It is an industry that has to deal with significant carbon emissions, but also an industry that will be part of the solution towards a sustainable future. Deloitte advises start-ups, local and international companies in the chemical industry on sustainability, and looks at different pathways and opportunities in the sector to enable sustainability. Hydrogen is one of these opportunities, which will be an important piece of the puzzle to move towards a sustainable future and society.

If you look at the added value of the chemical industry per capita, Belgium has been leading the pack for years. In May 2020, BlueChem started with the ambition to further strengthen the future of this economically important sector in Flanders.

Frederik-Debrabander-Deloitte
Frederik Debrabander

Deloitte is a strategic partner that advises start-ups, local and international companies with a wide range of professional services: strategic advice, technology implementations, accounting, legal and tax advice, financial and risk advisory. “We are convinced that we have a societal role to play by contributing to the sustainable transformation of the industry,” says Frederik Debrabander; Energy, Resources & Industrials Industry Leader. “I strongly believe that we can fulfil that role with our capabilities.”

The chemical sector impacts our daily life more than we might think. “There is no sustainable world without sustainable chemistry,” Frederik states. “The chemical industry is the mother of all industries.” Strategy Manager in Sustainability Brecht D’hont: “If we want to make shift towards a sustainable world, the chemical sector is an important part of the solution. Take for example the key role of the chemical industry in sustainable transport. Producing sustainable battery components, enabling recycling of batteries, and developing lighter high performance materials are just a few of the many examples.”

Hydrogen

There is no silver bullet that will solve the climate crisis. But Deloitte sees hydrogen as an important piece of the puzzle in the energy transition. “The chemical industry is an important solution provider to enable sustainability, but at the same time it is responsible for significant CO2 emissions. Reducing these emissions systematically and becoming CO2 neutral by 2050 is an important yet enormous challenge for the sector.

Brecht-D'hont-Deloitte
Brecht D’hont

Different solutions need to be combined to achieve this goal, such as electrification, use of biomass, CO2 capture and recycling, but hydrogen will also play an important role,” explains Brecht. “Hydrogen and its derivatives can be used both as sustainable fuel and as feedstock. Not only for the chemical sector, but also for other sectors such as the steel sector, long-distance transport, shipping, aviation etc.

The big advantage? Hydrogen is not new. Today in Europe about 10 million tons of hydrogen is produced and consumed per year. By 2050 we predict that the demand for hydrogen in Europe will exceed 100 million tons due to the role that hydrogen can play in the energy transition. An important aspect is to ensure that this hydrogen is produced in a sustainable, reliable & economic viable way”

“This increasing demand for hydrogen is a great opportunity for chemical companies to make their product and service portfolio more sustainable moving forward. We recently published a point of view about this opportunity for the sector,” says Brecht. “Chemical companies can play a unique role in the future hydrogen value chain starting from their current core strengths, such as their global assets, highly integrated supply chains, engineering knowledge and know-how in products such as hydrogen, etc. The key challenge for this typically international sector is to explore new and existing local markets, target customers in a very customer-oriented way, and achieve a positive business case by making smart choices and by partnering with the right players across the value chain . Anyone who succeeds in this will be able to strengthen their competitive position in a sustainable manner, driven by the energy transition.”

In concrete terms, Deloitte is participating in the largest green hydrogen project in Europe, NorthH2, which aims to convert 4 gigawatts of offshore wind energy into green hydrogen by 2030. “4 GW is about double what is now produced in Belgium with offshore wind energy, highlighting the size of this project,” says Brecht. “Our task is analyzing different end markets for this green hydrogen in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, and translating this into a viable business case for the project. Deloitte is also involved in many other hydrogen projects. We have for example conducted a study for the Federal Public Service Economy and Federal Minister of Energy Tinne Van der Straeten on the role of gaseous energy carriers in a climate neutral Belgium.”

Read the report here


catalisti-ann-verlinden

Expert Talks #6: Catalisti, from spearhead to visionary

catalisti-ann-verlinden
Source: Catalisti

As a structural partner of BlueChem, Catalisti aims to bring start-ups into contact with each other, with the government and with large chemical giants intending to create a sustainable chemical sector that can maintain its global position within Flanders. With the Hexagon project, initialised more than ten years ago, Catalisti contributed in building the foundations for the first chemical incubator in Flanders.

Catalisti acts as a spider in the web of companies and governments, collectively innovating with the aim of a sustainable economy and industry, in particular in the chemical sector. The web contains more than 130 companies, large and small, which develop joint projects and -in doing so- can strengthen each other.

The core business of Catalisti is that of chemistry & plastics, a field in which Flanders belongs at the top worldwide. “We need to ensure that we not only maintain that position, but also strengthen it,” Managing Director of Catalisti, Ann Verlinden says. More than ten years ago – then FISCH, now Catalisti – started the thought exercise: how can we anchor chemistry in Flanders in a sustainable way. Needless to say, the challenges to the sector were manifold.

Initiator

“After years of research, the Hexagon project (inspired by the Flemish SME EcoSynth) emerged. A kind of Technopolis, but for chemistry. But we soon realized that it would not be enough, so we needed to launch a pilot project where startups in the chemical sector that focus on sustainability and circularity could find and strengthen each other. And that is exactly what BlueChem is today”, Ann continues. This makes Catalisti one of the initiators of BlueChem, the first incubator for sustainable chemistry in Flanders.

As a structural partner of BlueChem, Catalisti wants to be a soundboard for the industry and for the startups associated with the incubator to contribute to the further expansion of the BlueChem community. “We are located in BlueChem ourselves and that allows us to be in constant contact with the various companies. We join them up so that an interaction can arise that leads to projects that aim to make the industry more sustainable. We are backed by the government to focus on these projects. But we also familiarize them with the set of supporting instruments VLAIO provides and guide them to the most suitable financing channels.”

Cross-fertilization

This interaction between the incubator, the startups and Catalisti is also the most important added value for Catalisti. “BlueChem wants to bridge the gap between the startups themselves, but also between them and the established players in the sector. This is very interesting for us too, because we have the same target group in mind. From this cross-fertilization between startups, projects emerge which can be very interesting for us. Moreover, if you want to make a speedy evolution towards sustainable chemistry, you need the kind of knowledge that is not available in just one company. Thanks to our network, we can introduce start-ups to established names in the chemical sector. All projects facilitated by Catalisti and submitted for financing by the Flemish government, are analyzed by an international jury and hence receive a quality label. That presents prospects and can open doors,” Ann continues.

Meanwhile, BlueChem’s occupancy rate continues to rise and that gives hope for the future. “BlueChem is just starting up but we can see the project growing slowly but surely. Pioneering work is being done here. Together with BlueChem, Catalisti will continue to facilitate startups, with knowledge, experience and a location that meets all their needs”, Ann concludes.


Port of Antwerp

Triple Helix builds recycling plant on NextGen District

NextGen District
Source: Port of Antwerp

Triple Helix is one of the first two companies who will officially build a pilot plant on Port of Antwerp's NextGen District. Port of Antwerp released the news after the agreement was signed by both parties.

Startup Triple Helix, located in BlueChem, will open recycling factory SurePUre to give new life to polyurethane foam, from discarted mattresses, car seats and insulation panels, among other things. Those pure chemicals can be reused, for example in the production of new polyurethane products. SurePUre will work in a fully circular manner and will provide its own energy needs.

About NextGen District

NextGen District will be thé hotspot for circular economy in Antwerp. The 88 ha site will give a circular future to the former General Motors area. Innovative players within the circular process and manufacturing industry will make end-of-life products reusable, research circular carbon solutions and carry out test projects with renewable energy.

 

Read Port of Antwerp's article here.


SGS

Expert Talks #5: SGS, a global player on a human scale

SGS
Source: SGS

SGS specializes in testing, inspection and certification in a wide variety of sectors: from the food industry to toys, tools, cosmetics, (petro)chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Within BlueChem, SGS helps startups and scale-ups in their ambitions for sustainable chemistry.

SGS is a worldwide benchmark for quality and integrity. Every company, in every industry, is provided a specialized service to make them faster, safer, better, more efficient and sustainable by implementing excellent tools in the areas of quality, safety, environment, health and in reducing risks. SGS employs 93,000 people worldwide, of which 3,800 in the Benelux. With their network of about 2,600 offices and laboratories, SGS is continuously working towards a better, safer, more sustainable and connected world. Three keystones are essential: testing, inspection and certification.

Sustainable transition

Within BlueChem, the focus of SGS is on testing, certification and specialized advice in the fields of sustainability, environment, safety and health. “SGS specifically offers services relating to sustainability, compliance with legislation and regulations with regards to the environment and safety on the one hand, and various services aimed at soil quality, waste and residual flows on the other. We also pilot startups and scale-ups towards a sustainable transition. By advising these companies from the start, we want to implement our vision to contribute to a sustainable world,” Kristof Van Hoecke, responsible for marketing, sales and communication at SGS, says. “We strive for a future proof and connected world. Hence, these services seamlessly match with BlueChem’s objectives, which makes this collaboration even more interesting.”

At SGS, we are convinced that sustainability is an important factor for the whole society and companies that value sustainability will perform better. After all, the sustainable transition also opens up new opportunities. “Companies that are able to make the switch to a sustainable business model and develop new products or services or set up a future-oriented business model, surely have a competitive advantage”

Chemical lab waste

SGS Emergency, Waste and Chemical Services (EWACS) has been implementing world-class hazardous waste management systems for over 30 years, and this in the most ethical and transparent way possible. “Our systems not only ensure that dangerous waste is collected, but also that it is treated according to industries best-practice and in full compliance with the ever-evolving legislations. Our company was proud to have already shared this experience with numerous BlueChem startups in the past, and will continue to do so in the future”, says Sales Executive Henri Delhaye.

Chemical lab waste usually consists of complex matrices, making it difficult to re-use these substances, especially in small volumes. “Therefore, we present labs some base rules for source sorting their chemical waste, whereafter SGS takes over and transports it to the SGS licensed environmental center in Melsele. Here it is further handled and (pre-)treated for final disposal, depending on its waste type and chemical properties. SGS makes sure that the resulting waste materials are sent to licensed treatment centers, where they can be re-used as (a) valuable resource(s) or as an energy source for various thermal processes.”

“Being a partner of BlueChem, SGS can share its vision and knowhow with starting entrepreneurs. We have a vast knowledge and expertise in advising and helping start-ups and scale-ups,” Kristof concludes.


BlueChem and BNP Paribas Fortis renew partnership

BlueChem incubator for sustainable chemistry and BNP Paribas Fortis renew partnership for another three years

 As a long-term partner, BNP Paribas Fortis has extended its strategic collaboration with BlueChem, the incubator for sustainable chemistry in Antwerp. Over the next three years, BNP Paribas Fortis plans to further assist promising start-ups and growth companies in the industrial development of their sustainable innovations to help guide the chemical sector through the transition story of the European Green Deal. In the meantime, this collaboration has resulted in concrete achievements and results, including the planned construction of a revolutionary recycling factory for polyurethane.

BlueChem is the first incubator in Belgium that specifically focuses on innovation and entrepreneurship in sustainable chemistry. It is a unique collaboration between government, industry and knowledge institutions with the joint ambition of offering young companies the best chance of success in developing sustainable and pioneering innovations for the chemical industry of the future.

BlueChem, located in the climate-neutral business park Blue Gate Antwerp, offers customised lab infrastructure, tailored services and direct access to knowledge and expertise within an extensive network of international chemical companies, renowned research centres and all five Flemish universities.

The chemical industry, an important and strategic sector for the Belgian economy, has made considerable efforts in the area of sustainability in recent years. Nevertheless, just like society as a whole, the chemical sector faces major challenges in the transition to a circular economy and in developing solutions to the challenge of climate change.

In BlueChem, twelve promising start-ups and university spin-offs are now working on new recycling techniques, crucial climate technologies for the capture and reuse of CO2, circular production processes and more sustainable food production. In the chemical sector, it takes a lot of time, courage and money to successfully scale up such innovations from a lab setting to industrial application.

BNP Paribas Fortis: a leader in sustainable entrepreneurship

From the start in May 2020, BNP Paribas Fortis joined BlueChem as a strategic partner, helping start-ups and scale-ups find investors and set up their business structures. But the bank itself can also act as an investor in sustainable developments. This is fully in line with the bank’s efforts to promote sustainable entrepreneurship.

BNP Paribas Fortis has a centre of expertise, the Sustainable Business Competence Centre, that closely follows innovative, sustainable developments and uses this knowledge to support companies in their sustainability transition. As an exclusive participating bank, BNP Paribas Fortis offers start-ups access to a wide network, helps structure the financing of their projects and fine-tunes a future-proof business plan.

The innovative growth company Triple Helix is one of the first companies to move into BlueChem and has been supported by the bank from the start. They are preparing the construction of 'SurePure', a unique, next-generation recycling plant to process polyurethane waste streams for reuse in new applications.

Steven Peleman, Managing Partner Triple Helix Group: "By regularly talking to us from the start and listening to our needs, the bank itself identifies the areas in which it can best support our company. And I’m not just talking about the financial situation. For example, BNP Paribas Fortis is also on the lookout for new strategic partners, helping us to strengthen our credibility and bringing in potential investors. After all, for our circular business model, a highly developed ecosystem is crucial and a bank that looks beyond the purely financial is a real added value."

Didier Beauvois, Head of Corporate Banking & Member of the Executive Board : "We are very proud to be a partner of BlueChem, which, like our bank, feels strongly about sustainable development and open innovation. We are pleased to make our network and expertise available to this very important industry for our country. If the chemical sector reduces its ecological footprint, it will have an immediate and important impact on the climate. It is therefore a deliberate choice to immediately extend our partnership with BlueChem by three years. Through these initiatives, we aim to help companies and sectors meet the conditions set out in the European Green Deal, the European Commission’s plan to make the European Union climate neutral by 2050.”

Barbara Veranneman, Chairperson BlueChem NV and Director International Affairs essenscia: “BlueChem is running at full speed and this success is partly due to its strong strategic partnerships like that with BNP Paribas Fortis. As a result, with our incubator for sustainable chemistry, we offer not only the right accommodation in the right place – extensive lab infrastructure close to one of the largest chemical clusters in the world – but also a specialised, tailor-made service. This access to top expertise is a special asset allowing start-ups and scale-ups to be optimally guided and to focus on their core task: bringing sustainable innovations to the market. We would like to thank BNP Paribas Fortis for this long-term relationship of trust and look forward to working together to build the sustainable chemistry for the future.”


BNP Paribas Fortis - sustainability

Expert Talks #4: Environmental Biotechnology, the key to sustainability

BNP Paribas Fortis - sustainability
Tobias Wilms, Life Sciences Advisor at BNP Paribas Fortis

BlueChem is the first incubator in Belgium with an explicit focus on innovation and entrepreneurship in the field of sustainable chemistry. Startups and scale-ups within the BlueChem incubator are supported in their development by strategic partners such as BNP Paribas Fortis. Tobias Wilms holds a PhD in biochemistry and works as a Life Sciences Advisor at BNP Paribas Fortis. As a strategic partner, BNP Paribas Fortis wants to assist start-ups and scale-ups in their search for investors, in setting up their business structures and in addition act as an investor for sustainable developments.

Within BlueChem, a number of startups are also committed to the pursuit of sustainable improvements in their fields and these ventures can be supported by BNP Paribas Fortis. The bank offers start-ups access to its extensive network, helps to structure the financing of the project and can provide input on the business plan.

Life Sciences Advisor at BNP Paribas Fortis, Tobias Wilms explains: “Nowadays, a considerable focus is put upon ‘Environmental Biotechnology’, which investigates how agriculture can be made more sustainable. Currently we must recognize that producing food is ecologically harmful, having a major impact on the environment. We still see that chemical pesticides are being used to protect crops. These pesticides are harmful to the environment and the biodiversity, and that’s why they are increasingly banned. As a result, to keep food production going, alternatives are needed!”

European Green Deal

It is a pursuit that perfectly fits into the framework of the ‘European Green Deal’, a plan introduced by the European Commission to make the European Union climate neutral by 2050. This means that net-zero greenhouse gas emission has to be obtained. What is nevertheless emitted by 2050 must be captured or immediately compensated. “The big issue within the food sector now is how to make the transition to a sustainable food system, while maintaining sufficient food production,” Tobias adds. The pursuit for sustainable and organic alternatives is in full swing.

Soy products

Calidris Bio, a startup in BlueChem, investigates fermentation technology to be used for the production of a high-quality protein source with a low ecological footprint based on captured CO2 and renewable energy. With this innovation, the start-up aims to develop an alternative for the current environmentally harmful protein-rich products such as soy. “If such protein-rich foods can be replaced by sustainably produced alternatives, the emission of greenhouse gases will be reduced considerably. Moreover, Calidris Bio focuses on fermentation using micro-organisms to produce proteins and as a result capturing CO2 from the air. So it’s a win-win situation,” Tobias explains. “As a bank, we are looking at how we can support Calidris Bio and other startups in order to contribute in building a sustainable world.”

Meat from the lab

Peace of Meat, another company in the BlueChem incubator, is developing a platform for sustainable meat production. “Cattle emit a huge amount of methane, occupy acres of land and need loads of fodder. That is why the meat industry is such a huge polluter. Producing cultured meat in a laboratory can significantly reduce the meat industry’s ecological footprint. But it will still take a while before we eat steaks coming from a laboratory. We presume that it will not be the case for another ten years or so, but we are determined to offer the labs all the help and resources they need to make it work”.