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    UniProtein®will be used to supplement or substitute animal feed products. 

    “This is about climate-smart food production,” says Henrik Busch-Larsen. His company, Danish-based Unibio, recently announced that it intends to list on AIM by the end of the fourth quarter, raising GBP 15m in the process. The plan is to use the money to build two production plants for the manufacture of a proprietary form of concentrated protein called UniProtein®. UniProtein®will be used to supplement or substitute animal feed products, in particular fishmeal and soybean meal. “It’s about the sustainable production of protein,” continues Busch-Larsen. “At the moment humans are in danger of exhausting the oceans and arable land, but we will be producing protein through fermentation, using bacteria that occur in nature.”

    The basic numbers are compelling. Whereas it takes one hectare of land to produce 700 kilogrammes of soy, the equivalent per hectare figure for Unibio is 25,000 tonnes. Similarly, where an estimated 600 litres of water (excluding rainwater) is used to produce one kilogramme of soy, it takes only five litres of water to produce the same amount of UniProtein®. And it’s a simple product, too. It comes in granulated form, has a crude protein content of 65% and has not been genetically modified in any way. Rather, its primary ingredient is methane, which allows Unibio to make the claim that the production of UniProtein® results in 52% lower CO2 emissions when compared to the use of natural gas in power generation.

    The company points out that 5.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas are being flared annually, and that if this flared gas was instead diverted to Unibio, it could be used to create 70m tonnes of UniProtein®. So, the attractions are plain: cheaper, more sustainable food production using existing technology. That leads on to the key question: will the animals eat it? On that score Busch-Larsen is in no doubt. Previous tests have shown that salmon, calves, pigs and chickens will all accept UniProtein as feed. At one point the publicity stills for the company even showed Busch-Larsen eating the product himself. So it’s certainly something that can be inserted into the food chain without too many complications.

    The trick now will be to successfully scale up production to commercial levels. Many of the building blocks for that process are already in place. “We are building upon an older technology,” says Busch-Larsen. “The microbiology of it has been known for a long time. This is a new design, but we’ve been developing this technology since 2001.” Product development is complete. “The next step is to upscale the plant to industrial size,” says Busch-Larsen. “We want to build an industrial-sized demonstration plant as a basis for the global roll-out of the technology. We are looking to internationalize the company, and we’re going to partner up. We see a very strong growth market in front of us. There is a growing global population that will drive more demand for meat products.” The plan is to form joint ventures with various partners around the world to create a global network of UniProtein®facilities. Busch-Larsen expects each joint venture to deliver a return on investment of around 50%, assuming current natural gas prices.

    To help Unibio on its way, the Danish government has awarded a grant of over GBP 1.5m, and the company already has an international shareholder base. “It’s a combination of UK, African, US and Danish money,” says Busch-Larsen. On listing on AIM, the existing investors will be locked in, in the standard fashion, although it’s unlikely that there would be any rush to the exits in any case. Rather, Busch-Larsen expects strong demand for the raise. He’s already embarked on a round of pre-IPO fundraising in the UK, which will be eligible for the enterprise investment scheme (EIS). Interested parties should contact Westhill Capital for more details.’ Click here for original article