The Kempen Insect Cluster kicks off. This cluster is a unique patnership between the industry and a number of research centres with the support of the government. The Kempen Insect Cluster confirms the leading role of the Kempen region in the cultivation and processing of insects for the chemical sector, animal feed and human food. In the longer term, many applications in the cosmetics and pharmaceutics sector are also possible.
The Kempen Insect Cluster is part of the regional platform Kempen (Streekplatform Kempen). The initiators are Milibeter, Voka – Chamber of Commerce Kempen, Thomas More, KU Leuven and VITO, with the support of the Antwerp Innovation Centre. “The Kempen Insect Cluster is an innovative partnership across sectors”, says Renilde Craps, Managing Director of Voka – Chamber of Commerce Kempen. “This eco system should pave the way for a sustainable, low-carbon resources economy. At first we reach out to additional partners in Flanders, in the longer term, we hope to become an international leader thanks to our efforts.”
Source of raw materials
Insects are an environmentally friendly source of raw materials and therefore they will become increasingly important. “Insects are capable of very efficiently converting organic waste into high quality raw materials such as proteins, lipids and chitin”, says Professor Leen Van Campenhout, KU Leuven. “In addition, they hardly emit any greenhouse gases and they need little water and space. At present, however, sufficient knowledge on the cultivation and the use of insects is missing, making fundamental and applied research highly necessary. KU Leuven wants to take on a leading role in this research at the Technology Campus Geel.”
In order to be able to perform fundamental research, the role of the government is very important. “Thanks to the support of the governments, we are able to build pilot plants”, Johan De Boeck, Thomas More adds. “The knowledge that we gain in these pilots plants we make available to the industry, so that on the short term, business opportunities will arise.”
Together with Voka – Chamber of Commerce Kempen, Milibeter took the lead to establish the partnership between companies in the cluster. “We are working with the Black Soldier Fly”, says Johan Jacobs, CEO Milibeter. “The larvae of this fly process huge amounts of organic waste and form the ideal feedstock for the chemical industry, with a lot of potential as animal feed. Thanks to the Kempen Insect Cluster, we have established a lot of contacts in Flanders and we can also take international action in the future.
This initiative will also be made possible with the financial support of EFRO Flanders – GTI Kempen though the application of grants for two projects: ‘Co Creation Hub Companies in the 'Kempen Insect Cluster’ and ‘Insect Pilot Plant’, and this for a total grant of approximately € 700 000.
Maarten Uyttebroek - VITO