Patent of the Month July
On July 4, the European Patent Office once again awarded the prestigious European Inventor Award to outstanding innovations in eleven different categories. Among this year's finalists in the SME category is the French biochemist Antoine Hubert and his team from the company Ÿnsect. The company is a pioneer and market leader in the field of insect breeding and processing of insect proteins for natural high-performance foods.
A trendy business field – and backed by numerous patents (see below). The innovative process for the production of beetle-powder and its use, especially for human or animal nutrition, was granted a European patent in 2019 (EP3240905 B1). It scored highest in the internal PNZ ranking and is therefore our Patent of the Month of July!
As an agricultural engineer by training, Antoine Hubert pursued early on projects that focused on insects, such as recycling and upcycling biomass and plastics. In 2011, he and his team founded the company Ÿnsect. Hubert came up with the idea during a trip to Africa, where he was impressed by the local insect culture and breeding. The start-up initially specialized in the production of feed and fertilizer from insects. This was later followed by the idea of using insect proteins in food production.
For the production of beetle-powder, mealworm beetles are kept in vertical breeding facilities. These consists of modules tacked on top of each other, in which the insects are sorted, fed, cleaned and monitored by autonomic machines Then, according to the other patent documents of Antoine Hubert, the nutrients are processed via chemical operations into oils and powders, which in turn are used to produce the food and fertilizer products. Meanwhile Ÿnsect has scaled up the production to thousands of tons of insect protein annually. With a protein content of up to 72%, this produces high-quality, nutrient-rich ingredients for plants, animals and humans.
The company's success story is also interesting for IP managers, because the company early on pursued a consistent, active strategy for their intellectual property at all production stages and holds more than 370 patents, according to a statement on its homepage. It sets high incentives for scientific and technical staff to establish new, innovative methods and products. This enabled Ÿnsect to raise several million euros in investment from major venture capital firms such as Upfront Ventures, Demeter Partners and Future Positive Capital. However, not only financially, but also qualitatively, the company operates at a high level: the mealworm products of Ÿnsect have recently received approval for human consumption from the European Health Authority.
Hubert and his team's approach is innovative and sustainable. Insect farming is significantly more resource-efficient than conventional agricultural livestock operations: insect protein production uses 40 times less water and 28 times less land than animal protein production, thus releasing 40 times less CO2. According to Hubert, the goal is nothing less than “feeding the planet, without destroying it”. The CEO is convinced that the consumption of insects will find ever greater acceptance. With its sustainable and high-quality production, the company will expand even further in the coming years and make an important contribution to environmental protection. If the support of such a prominent shareholder as Robert Downey Jr. is added to this, nothing can really go wrong.
The Patent and Standards Center congratulates all finalists of the European Inventor Award 2023 and wishes them every success!
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EP3240905 B1 Beetle Powder
EP3282836 B1 Method for insect breeding
EP3240902 B1 Chitin, hydrolysat and method for the production of one or more desired products from insects by means of enzymatic hydrolysis
EP3240436 B1 Composition containing chitin and digestible proteins
EP3364777 B1 Preservation of water-soluble vitamins
Interview Antoine Hubert, Chairman and CEO, Ÿnsect, with Arnaud Jouron, 22.9.2022 on Arthur D. Little
Interview Antoine Hubert, Chairman and CEO, Ÿnsect, with Martita Mestey published in Authority Magazine, 8 min read, Dec 20, 2022