Start-Up Tour “Doin’Food” – Episode 1: “Rostock”: Large-Scale Mealworm Production

The new “Doin’Food” podcast is about the many minds behind the new food economy. We start with a look behind the scenes in Rostock and meet four protagonists of the innovation ecosystem there.

Talked with

  • raijana schiemanthe managing director of INOVA Protein GmbH, as insects will enrich our diet
  • Wiebke Külper Y Hauke ​​Scheffler of the research association MV eV
    (from minute 13:00)
  • dr Steffen KnodtHead of Sustainable Ocean Business at Fraunhofer IGD
    (
    from minute 24:10)
  • dr Philip Wreethe new group leader at Fraunhofer IGD, which is currently creating a new department for smart agriculture
    (from minute 38:10)

You can listen to the first episode of the “Doin’Food” kick-off tour here:

Last year, the Hanseatic City of Rostock was Federal Ministry of Education and Research as one of seven nationwide regional innovation networks “Clusters4Future”. youUnder the title Ocean Technology Campus (OTC) Rostock, the close integration of science and business innovation is made possible. The OTC promotes the bridge between two important future tasks: the development of technological solutions for the maritime economy of tomorrow and the sustainable use of marine resources.

The Ocean Technology Campus in Rostock is thus an international innovation ecosystem for underwater technology, in which ideas for the sustainable use of the seas can grow to practical maturity. The close network of scientific and economic experts promotes an efficient development process. With extensive services, from infrastructure to basic research and initial advice, OTC meets complex requirements from a single source.

Sustainable underwater technologies

Who builds these bridges is dr Steffen Knodt of OTC. It establishes a viable transfer structure as a pillar of interdisciplinary research. The academy “Sustainable Ocean Business” it is focused on innovative solutions for sustainable underwater technologies. The corresponding competences for sustainable underwater technology are already available at the Rostock location, both in the field of research and in the field of small and medium-sized industry. The high-performance center combines the existing competencies at the Rostock and Lübeck locations and expands them as a technology broker to enable comprehensive technology transfer into practice.

Marine Engineering Creation Space

Another building block within the future OTC cluster is the “Ocean Open Lab” project, spearheaded by Wiebke Külper. The Ocean Open Lab is an open makerspace dedicated to ocean engineering. Here, technical questions meet an active community from different areas to find solutions in relation to marine and underwater technologies and thus generate innovations. The themes and findings of the OTC cluster are conveyed to stakeholders through a series of events and public relations work. This is intended to promote open innovation processes as a new form of cooperation between business, science and the general public.

Creation of companies in marine and underwater technology

The “International Ocean Accelerator” (IO Accelerator) program supports and accelerates the start-up of innovative companies in marine and subsea technology. Here, teams from around the world continue to develop their founding ideas related to marine and underwater themes. Young entrepreneurs are offered a lot, such as targeted funding, access to the cluster’s marine infrastructure, and contacts with national and international experts and science and business consortia. This program is administered by Hauke ​​Scheffler. However, to produce entrepreneurs here in the long term, there must be innovations and ideas from the local ecosystem.

Smart farming and smart fishing with visual computing

departments such as dr Philip Wree, which are currently under construction, they say. His subject area is Smart Farming, along with Visual Computing. In addition, there are already specific application fields, such as OTC SmartFishing, which is developing the basis for a robust AI-enabled image-recognition underwater camera system for use in commercial fishing and fisheries research. This will make it possible, in the medium term, to capture marine organisms with pinpoint precision, both in fishing and in fisheries/marine research. In addition, this system enables minimally invasive and resource-saving research of fish fauna as a basis for sustainable management of the seas.

Monitoring system for marine aquaculture systems

Another very good example of cooperation outside the ecosystem, in this case with startups from Berlin, is the OTC-Marikultur project. Here a monitoring system for marine aquaculture systems will be developed that will allow remote maintenance. The core tool is the creation of a digital twin of the system, which represents a digitization of real-time monitoring of various animal welfare, animal behavior and environmental parameters by processing the data from comprehensive sensors (e.g. cameras, water parameters) using methods from the field of artificial intelligence. Additionally, microbiome studies are used to assess aspects of fish health. The project addresses the creation of biogenic value of the sea and therefore mainly the future field “Sustainable use of the ocean”. There are also intersections, in particular with the “Digital Mission” innovation fields, as well as “Ocean Lense” and “Subsea Mobility & Autonomy”.

Large-scale mealworm farming

Especially noteworthy are the young companies that have been able to bring the horses of the ecosystem to the streets. INOVA Protein works to solve a global problem. The three young entrepreneurs from Rostock have set themselves a big goal: to make nutrition more sustainable, environmentally friendly and healthy. The basis for this is mealworms, which will soon reproduce on a large scale. Protein flour, insect oil, chitin and fertilizers are produced from dried insects with areas of application in animal and human nutrition.

We were there live and saw the structure of the new production room, which is expected to be finished in mid-May, and talked to us. raijana schiemanthe managing director of INOVA Protein GmbH.

Then the offspring as well as the rearing and processing of the mealworms will take place under one roof. Automation makes the entire process even safer and more efficient. The first sales are scheduled to start in the summer of 2022. In the first stage of the expansion of the hall, 1.5 tons of insect meal per month will be produced for food. the INOVA Protein GmbH is a good example of how farmers can enter new business areas if they have the right partner at their side.

We definitely look forward to coming back to Rostock soon and meeting other innovative market movers. We thank Rostock for the information and now look forward to Kiel.

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