Spirulina and alternative proteins open the Breakfast4inno

Apr 10, 2024

The cycle of “innovation breakfasts” organised by Agrotecnio and the Agrobiotech Park of Lleida began today with a session dedicated to spirulina, an innovative food product produced from a microalgae rich in proteins, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. In recent years, spirulina has gained importance in the food industry due to its nutritional interest and because it is considered an alternative protein. The speakers in this first session were Blauver Foods, a company based in Almenar (Lleida) that produces spirulina, and a top sportsman who includes spirulina in his daily diet.

So-called alternative proteins are found in foods made from plants, algae, insects and even artificially produced meat. The climate crisis is pushing citizens and the food industry to look for alternatives to animal protein, which requires more resources to produce. According to the FAO, spirulina has been traditionally used in different countries in Africa and Asia as a protein supplement for human consumption and also as an ingredient in animal feed. Its potential benefits for microbiota, the immune system and muscle growth are being investigated.

Blauver Foods is a start-up accelerated by the APTENISA programme and based in Almenar, Lleida. According to Joan Solé Guàrdia, founder and director, there are less than 10 companies in the world that market fresh spirulina, and his is one of the first European companies to produce it. Solé considers spirulina “a food and not a nutritional supplement. In fact, the UN classified it as ‘one of the best foods for the future of humanity’ and we are dealing with a food with a high protein load that improves our functioning and provides us with vitamins and minerals”. His company is calling for the sustainability of the production of this food and its importance for the future of the food industry. For his part, Josep Ramon Sanahuja, a triple award-winning athlete at the 2023 European Police and Firefighters’ Championship, explained his personal experience of consuming spirulina, stating that “physical recovery is much faster”.

The Breakfast4inno

Agrotecnio and the Agrobiotech Park of Lleida have launched the “Breakfast4inno”, a cycle of innovation breakfasts designed to bring together people from the world of research and industry, promoting the transfer of knowledge and technology. These breakfasts aim to create a space for sharing knowledge, real experiences and challenges for both companies and research personnel. Breakfast4inno started today, 10 April, and will be held monthly at the Agrolivinglab in the city of Lleida.

José Antonio Bonet, director of Agrotecnio, stresses the importance of working on the transfer of knowledge and technology between research and industry: “We need to break down barriers to make research more efficient, more useful and closer to the needs of society and the economy” and adds that “the Agrobiotech Park and Agrotecnio are working together to achieve this goal and promote the creation of an innovative and cohesive system from Lleida and for the whole country”.

Miquel Aran, manager of the Lleida Agrobiotech Park, points out that “the Agrolivinglab space in Lleida, which has already been finished, is specifically designed for this type of meeting. We believe that the meeting between business and research is fundamental and with Breakfast4inno we want to initiate a new experience”.

Breakfast4inno will continue throughout 2024. The next session, scheduled for 9 May, will address “digital twins” on farms, a new smart management technique. The full breakfast programme is available here.