About my Start-up

Chitin Craft Biomaterials valorises insect waste streams through the extraction and recovery of chitin. Chiton and its deacylytated form, Chitosan, has a wide range of applications in the pharmateutical, medical, packaging, textiles, and water industries. We focus on applications for novel bioplastics and hydrogel wound treatment applications.

Moreover, our extraction process uses natural deep eutectic solvents, making it a sustainable alternative to conventional, consequential acid and alkaline extraction steps, which generates large volumes of waste by-products. Another advantage of DESs is that the solvent can be recycled and used more than once, before it is discarded as biodegradeable waste stream.

Why your idea is a “winner"?:

Our idea is a winner, because we have created a novel, circular and sustainable production process to produce chitin from insect waste materials. This has major potential, considering the projected market growth for both the insect industry and the chitin market.

Global human population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050. To accommodate the population, current food production will need to almost double. One solution to this is insect protein. Insects are natural food for fish, poultry and pigs and can therefore be used as a sustainable replacement for soy and fish meal. To this end we have seen multiple insect production facilities established in recent years, with companies such as Protix, Protifarm, Kreca Ento-feed, and DeliBugs in The Netherlands. European companies include Illucens GMBH, Ÿnsect, Nusect, Bioflytech, Entomotech, InnovaFeed, NextProtein, and Entoma to name a few. Most of these produce waste in the form of dead insects or insect skins, depending on their process, life cycle strategy and product portfolio.

This waste material contains a valuable resource: chitin. In our company Chitin Craft Biomaterials, we will valorise this waste material. Chitin is the second most important natural polymer in the world, most abundant after cellulose, and comprises 2 - 5% of the dry mass of insects. From a market perspective, the use of chitosan is expected to reach more than 15 billion USD in 2025 for use in wastewater treatment, textiles and agrochemical industry, and food packaging. Chitin is biodegradable, antibacterial, accelerates wound healing, and is used to immobilize enzymes. Chitin fibers can be blended with cellulose or silk for non-allergenic, deodorizing, antibacterial and moisture controlling fibers for textiles. The main application of chitin is in the medical and pharmaceutical applications as wound dressing material and controlled drug release. Chitosan is the deacylytated component of chitin. It is a biofunctional polysaccharide with potential for growth in its applications. These include cosmetics, water treatment and agrochemicals.

What is your current or intended business/revenue model?:

The waste or raw material is free, with only the transportation cost associated with aquiring the material. Main expenses include the solvent and regeneration chemicals cost. Our main product is the produced chitin and/or chitosan.

Do you have any Patent or IP registered (related to the solution that you are looking for an investment)?:

We have not filed a patent to date.

Has your technology already been implemented in any field/sector?:

The use of natural deep eutectic solvent for the extraction of chitin from insect waste materials is a novel and innovative process that has not been applied commercially.

Which market and customer need(s)/problem(s) is (are) your products(s)/service(s) going to solve?:

Our main product is the chitin and chitosan. The chitosan will be further explored for use in biocompatible wound dressings using hydrogel formulations and anti-microbial textile coatings.

Team members
Dirk Stoffberg Business Developer

Dirk Stoffberg holds a Masters in Sustainable Agriculture from the University of Stellenbosch with an undergraduate in Industrial Engineering (B.Eng). Dirk has extensive knowledge in the insect industry, having been the Business Development Manager for PROTICYCLE (insect farming). During his time he increased the production scale 100-fold, proving his dedication and skill in taking a start-up from bench scale to commercial scale production.

Mieke Nieder-Heitmann Conceptual Design Engineer

Mieke Nieder-Heitmann holds a PhD from the University of Stellenbosch in Bioresource Engineering, with a undergraduate in Chemical Engineering (B.Eng). Her experience includes technical and conceptual process design of biorefineries. She has worked in the biomass and circularity industry since 2016.

TRL 4 – technology validated in lab
Candidate Overview

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