What’s it really like to apply for LIFE funding? Does it take a lot of effort and time? How can it help your business? We caught up with Kai Hempel who is managing director of LIFE Waste2Protein to find out.
This article is the second in a short series on applying for LIFE funding. See the first on LIFE BIOBCOMPO here.
Tell us about yourself and your company
I’ve always been interested in aquaponics and was on the lookout for more sustainable feed for fish. What is currently on offer is either fish or soy based. The idea of using insects as an alternative protein source came to mind. Together with my business partner, Dr. Jonas Finck, we started working in a small garage. In 2017, we received a bank loan and our company madebymade was born. Since then, we have been looking to achieve our dream of setting up our very own insect breeding factory.
Can you briefly describe your LIFE project?
Our LIFE project Waste2Protein is aiming to use biowaste from supermarkets as a resource to produce insect protein from black soldier flies. The production process should be environmentally sound and follow the circular economy concept. Zero waste production is our goal.
Why did you apply for LIFE funding?
The LIFE programme has a very good reputation and joining it means we are part of a community of European projects, which are improving and protecting the environment
In addition, building an industrial insect plant is an ambitious and complex task – good partners are hugely important. As a small company, the LIFE funding is vital for us to reach this goal.
How long did it take you to prepare the full proposal?
We decided to apply through the environment sub-programme. We first had to submit a 10-page summary of the proposal, which took us about five weeks to prepare. Then it took us around seven weeks to complete the full application. Following this, we also had to answer some follow-up questions.
How important was the support you got from LIFE?
The LIFE funding was essential. It has allowed us to think bigger. Our company has also become interesting for investors and we have obtained a good credit rating due to the funds at our disposal.
What is your top tip for future applicants?
Everything takes much longer than you think, so give yourself enough time to apply.
What's next for the project?
Waste2Protein’s main goal is to build our first industrial insect factory and this is what we are all working towards. Once this is done, we want to expand globally.
For more information on submitting LIFE project proposals:
Contact the LIFE Programme’s National Contact Points for general questions.
Contact the Enterprise Europe Network to source potential partners.
Image: LIFE18 ENV/DE/000011 - Licensed to the European Union under conditions.