EntoCube farms insects in Espoo Innovation Garden for human consumption. Their container can hold up to hundreds of thousands of house crickets.
In the heart of Espoo Innovation Garden in Otaniemi, in the backyard of Startup Sauna and Urban Mill stands the budding innovation by the Espoo-based company EntoCube. The shipping container, which is hot and humid inside, is buzzing with insects. EntoCube’s goal is to end world hunger.
”Protein, iron, vitamins”, lists of Perttu Karjalainen, one of the young founding members of EntoCube. Insects are nourishing food.
”They are a local, economical and ecologically sustainable source of nutrition”, assures Karjalainen.
”We farm insects in a transferable container without water, soil or long supply chains. The food is produced close to the consumer. In the cube the crickets are safe from nature’s extremes, such as droughts and floods.”
Feeding the crickets is economical because they live off a student restaurant’s left-over salad and vegetable peels.
”The cube also has communal and social importance because it creates jobs for the locals”, adds Robert Nemlander, Karjalainen’s colleague, to the list of the positives of the insect cube. Feeding, cleaning, and sorting insects in different developmental stages has to be done daily.
Farming the original population shipped through Europe from Holland to Espoo had its obstacles, but through experimenting and learning the production has started to flow.
”At the moment we have about 100,000 specimens in the cube. At its full capacity the cube can produce five kilogrammes of food per day”.
The orders have already started to come in. The first containers EntoCube will deliver to its customers in the Nordic countries and in the Baltics, but the main target countries are in Southeast Asia, where, according to the EntoCube crew, the house cricket is already a traditional delicacy and source of nutrition.
The business is anticipating a boost from Startup Sauna’s spring programme, which the founders of EntoCube have been part of for a few weeks now. Their company was one of the fourteen lucky applicants that were chosen to the programme out of 500 hopefuls. The start-up programme participants are coached by dozens of experienced serial entrepreneurs and experts in different fields.
The young entrepreneurs believe that there will be a market for their product.
”Even in the Western world there could be an insect cube in the backyard of every restaurant”, Karjalainen envisions as he heads off to plan the upcoming cricket barbecue – a grill party with insect delicacies.