Alver, Chromologics get Fi Europe innovation award

Switzerland’s Alver Golden Chlorella and Danish biotech Chromologics have been revealed as the winners of the 2017 Start-up Innovation Challenge at Fi Europe.

Alver, Chromologics get Fi Europe innovation award

Switzerland’s Alver Golden Chlorella and Danish biotech Chromologics have been revealed as the winners of the 2017 Start-up Innovation Challenge at Fi Europe.

The two companies were among 10 start-ups invited to pitch their businesses in the Industry Insights Theatre at Fi Europe. The winners were selected by a judging panel of industry experts.

Now in its second year, the Start-up Innovation Challenge is organised by UBM, French natural extracts specialist Naturex, open innovation support network Presans, and Vaucluse Provence Attractivité, the economic development agency for the Vaucluse region of Southern France.

Alver developed its patented Golden Chlorella in a bid to find a protein that is both healthy and enjoyable. The company studied 2,500 different species of microalgae to identify one that is high in protein and can be added to any product without disturbing the taste — unlike green chlorella, which is said to have a strong taste that means it does not work well in many food applications.

Golden Chlorella has a protein content of 63%, compared to just 23% for meat, and is rich in potassium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin B. Moreover, the fermentation process to produce Golden Chlorella is sustainable. It requires 44 times less water and 41 times less arable land than the equivalent production of beef protein — and emits 36 times less CO2.

“We believe our protein is the most sustainable way of feeding the world with proteins, and also the most enjoyable one,” said co-founder and CEO Mina Uran.

As winner of the Best Natural Award, Alver will benefit from six months of privileged access to Naturex’s equipment and laboratories, a dedicated pilot for the scale-up of its project, and with regulatory and marketing resources.

Chromologics was spun out of the Technical University of Denmark, after years of research to develop a patented fermentation process using non–GMO filamentous fungus to produce natural food colourings.

Its flagship product is a novel red compound called ChromoRed, which is intended to meet the industry challenge for a natural red pigment from a sustainable, non-insect source, that is pH and heat stable, and not subject to price fluctuations.

As a small company, Chromologics says it intends to lead on gaining regulatory approval for ChromoRed from EFSA and the FDA, but it hopes to attract a partner to lead on production. To date, and thanks to an initial €200,000 of funding obtained in early 2017, the company says it has established that its product is not genotoxic, but it is currently testing more safety aspects and carrying out application studies.