The concept ‘Wurmpie Wurmpie‘ by Shasco Laugs (Fontys Applied Science) and Raf Errui (alumnus Communication Fontys University of Applied Science) is one of the four research projects recently funded by Fontys. The financial impulse (€25,000) is intended to investigate the feasibility of innovative startups. “The plan is to grow mealworms in the middle of the city.”

By Frank van den Nieuwenhuijzen, Bron.Fontys

The idea arose two years ago. At a festival Shasco Laugs (23) eats an insectburger; he gets triggered by this meat alternative: “I looked around on the internet and soon started to grow my own mealworms in my student room with a K’nex arrangement. My girlfriend didn’t like it that much, but still. Meanwhile, the mealworms farm of Laugs and his partner Raf Errui has grown to 18 square metres and moved to Strijp-S in Eindhoven.

Mobile insect farms
Gradually the approach is becoming increasingly ‘circular’. Laugs: “We came into contact with the owner of restaurant Duurzame Kost. It turned out that we could use excess organic matter such as algae and roots to feed the worms. Wurmpie Wurmpie finally wants to set up mobile insect farms, using the local waste streams. These are residual products which are of no benefit to humans. For example: leftovers from city breweries. We supply the production centre for the worms and the complete infrastructure. We also collect the cultivated mealworms every once in a while.”

Beefsteak and broccoli together
The 25,000 euros that the startup now receives will go to the further development of the grow room. “We want to improve climate control and, for example, look at the insulation options”, says Laugs. Tests are also carried out to optimise the nutrition of insects. In the long run, Wurmpie Wurmpie Wurmpie’s mobile cultivation stations must be able to produce up to 1000 kilos of mealworms a week.

Biting in a mealworm: it may take some getting used to. “Yes”, Laugs admits. “In the West, there is still a cultural aversion to insect eating. We have to go through that. Demand for animal proteins continues to rise, while the bio-industry has reached the limit in its present form.” According to Laugs, mealworms are part of the solution. “They contain as much protein as a steak. And more fibres than broccoli. They are therefore not only an alternative to meat, but also to vegetables.”

Photo: Brownies based on mealworms (photo Dion Spoler).

This story was first published on Bron.Fontys.nl (Dutch)