On the 6 and 7 June 2017, participants representing research, industry and SMEs from five countries converged in Porto, Portugal, to launch the INvertebrateIT project. INvertebrateIT is focused on developing innovative approaches for the aquaculture sector, particularly on the use of organic waste for the production of invertebrates as alternative ingredients in fish feed. Funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund under the “Blue Labs – Innovative Solutions for Maritime Challenges” call, INvertebrateIT is one of three projects selected to develop joint roadmaps and bankable demonstration projects in the Atlantic and North Sea to coordinate further investments for innovation.
INvertebrateIT aims to help aquaculture operators mitigate their current dependence on costly, volatile, and often unsustainable ingredients in traditional fish feeds, to diversify their business and to contribute to a better management of valuable organic waste and/or new algal substrates for invertebrate production. This proposed integrated scheme builds on available technology in insect production and strategic policy for the aquaculture and waste sectors.
Insects are an economical, environmentally efficient, nutrient-rich feed that could reduce the need for wild caught fish feed or other plant-based protein feed additives in aquaculture. Only very recently the EU has given the green light for the use of insect-derived meal in fish farming, which is expected to boost circular economies. “Perhaps the most exciting part of the INvertebrateIT project is that we get to support innovation in an extraordinary growth sector. Creating a circular economy for fish feed (and other aquaculture products) by feeding fish with something they would eat in their natural environment, is a win-win for all involved” says Silvia Sarria, INvertebrateIT’s Project Coordinator and European Policies Division Lead at Innogate to Europe.
INvertebrateIT’s overarching objective is to bring influential actors together to define a Joint Roadmap and Investment Plan across the EU Atlantic Basin to promote and exploit the value chain around the production of invertebrates, such as insects, as ingredients for sustainable fish feeds, resulting in competitive aquaculture and integrated waste management. For this purpose, the INvertebrateIT partnership will invite all interested stakeholders to provide input into these processes, by means of an interactive webinar in November 2017.
INvertebrateIT plans to engage SMEs to support project development which will commercially exploit opportunities combining sustainable aquaculture, invertebrate production and smart waste management, contributing to the common macro-regional Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation priorities, Blue Growth and the Circular Economy. To that end, INvertebrateIT will soon announce an Open Contest to encourage the development of exciting, innovative ideas around the integration of invertebrates into feed for aquaculture. Through the Open Contest, three promising projects or ideas will be selected for support from INvertebrateIT. Depending on needs, INvertebrateIT will identify potential investment, support up-scaling and transfer, and facilitate the development of suitable Public Private Partnerships. Full details and submission rules will be made available on the INvertebrateIT website shortly.