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Two years ago, IO spoke with the CEO and founder of Livin Farms, Katharina Unger. In the meantime, much has changed. The start-up recently opened a 1400m2 pilot plant, Unger is now talking to several large customers and the company has more than twenty employees on its payroll.

Growing alternative proteins

The mission of Livin Farms remained unchanged since 2015: providing food for the growing world population while saving the planet. Unger’s factories are growing insect protein for animal feed. The technology company, based in Vienna, develops equipment to grow alternative proteins and provides education on sustainability.

From waste to feed

The centrepiece of Livin Farms is a modular factory where insects are bred on a large scale from organic by-products. These insects can then be processed or sold as animal feed. “By turning waste, such as banana peels and bread scraps, into valuable feed, we use the key function of insects in the ecosystem to restore the food system at scale,” says Unger.

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Ready-to-use insect rearing module

The Hive PRO Demonstrator covers 1400 m2 and is the first (pilot) factory that was recently put into operation. The factory is a turnkey industrial insect rearing module with which the start-up offers a complete insect farming service, says Iman Said of Livin Farms. “We make customised feed formulas for insect rearing, offer engineering and planning services and can supply baby larvae. We also have turnkey solutions, i.e. the equipment and machinery, in-house for new insect factories.”

Multi-million investment

Setting up an insect farm has been a long and costly process that required a lot of research and development. But hard work pays off: a few weeks ago Livin Farms secured a million euro investment. Earlier, the company had already secured a 2.5 million euro grant from the European Innovation Council (EIC). With these promising sums, it is only a matter of time before more and more Livin Farms factories spring up where waste is turned into high-quality feed.