Researchers from the University of Aveiro (UA) participate in the representation of the InsectERA Mobilizing Agenda at the 2023 National Agriculture Fair

Between June 3 and 11, 2023, the InsectERA mobilizing agenda was present at the National Agriculture Fair (FNA23), held in Santarém. The University of Aveiro, a member of the InsectERA consortium, was represented by Susana Loureiro and Diogo Cardoso (CESAM/DBIO), Paula Quinteiro (CESAM/DAO), Marta Ferreira Dias (GOVCOPP/DEGEIT), and Ana Paula Tavares and Augusto Pedro (CICECO/DQ) (from left to right in the photograph).

Daniel Murta, General Director of Entogreen and Leader of the InsectERA Mobilizing Agenda, emphasized in the regional newspaper O Mirante the importance of the presence at FNA23, which “is the central national event for areas ranging from animal and human nutrition to the bioindustrial production of fertilizers and other agro-industrial products.” In turn, researcher Susana Loureiro (CESAM/DBIO), the contact point for the InsectERA Agenda at the University of Aveiro, also pointed out that: “The UA teams present at FNA introduced the work programs for the InFood, InFrass, and One Health Axes on June 7, 9, and 11. In these axes, we will address the development of new techniques for insect processing for the extraction of proteins and oils using alternative biocompatible solvents, the components of fertilizer safety and their effectiveness in various agricultural and forestry crops, as well as the Life Cycle and Sustainability of the products that will come out of this agenda. In addition, on June 7, we participated in the General Assembly of the InsectERA Agenda, giving a new impetus to the work.”

The mobilizing agendas for Business Innovation, framed within the Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR), were created with the aim of consolidating and expanding synergies between the business sector and the scientific and technological system in Portugal. Contributing to increasing the competitiveness and resilience of the Portuguese economy based on R&D, innovation, and the diversification and specialization of the productive structure.

In this context, the InsectERA Mobilizing Agenda was created to bring together different players from the entire value chain who intend to explore the potential of insects as a bioindustrial tool and bioindustrial solutions. Daniel Murta also emphasized in the regional newspaper O Mirante that they have the ambition to “make Portugal the world leader in a new bioindustrial sector.” Since this Agenda seeks to bring alternative food/nutritional solutions to respond to new sector needs, such as the increase in the world population, climate change, and food waste. Thus contributing to the green transition towards environmental sustainability, based on a circular economy.

Among the plans of this Mobilizing Agenda is the creation of three new factories for the production of insect-derived products, the creation of a chitosan production factory, and a logistics center, where 150 new jobs are expected to be generated. Investments are also planned, including construction or adaptation works, the acquisition of productive, processing, and biodigestion equipment, quality control laboratory equipment, packaging, and the installation of solar panels. With this investment program, it is expected to achieve the industrialization of at least 100 new products, processes, and services based on insects for the market.

Defined based on identified market needs, the InsectERA Agenda is structured into three transversal axes (InFrass; One Health; In2Market) and four major vertical axes:

  • InFood – with a minimum target of 15 new product lines for human nutrition based on insects;
  • InFeed – with a minimum goal of creating 8 new product lines (feeds) for animal nutrition;
  • InIndustry – which aims at the development and industrialization of four new raw materials (chitosan, proteins, insect oil, lauric acid, and natural insect extracts);
  • InBiorremediation – which aims at investing in R&D and creating a bioremediation research center.

The InsectERA consortium involves 42 partners, three of which are insect producers in Portugal (EntoGreen, Thunderfoods, and The Cricket Farm Company). The University of Aveiro participates in the consortium with three research teams from three different research units: the Center for Environmental and Marine Studies (CESAM); the Institute of Materials of Aveiro (CICECO); and the Governance, Competitiveness and Public Policy Research Unit (GOVCOPP). The contact point at the University of Aveiro, as mentioned above, is researcher Susana Loureiro (CESAM/DBIO), with an investment of €1,660,414.03 by the Aveiro Academy.

To learn more about this Mobilizing Agenda, consult here.

Text by: CESAM in collaboration with Susana Loureiro (CESAM/DBIO)