BioMiMetiC establishes its first biowaste recovery demonstrator in Provence

success story
BioMiMetiC establishes its first biowaste recovery demonstrator in Provence
Damien Sabatier, founder - CEO of BioMiMeTic
29 September 2021 / Eco-industries, Food Industries, Grow your business

A local and carbon-free alternative is now in the scale-up phase

After devoting 3 years of work and R&D in order to move into the biowaste recovery market, Damien Sabatier, an agronomy engineer by training and a Doctor of Agronomy, has launched his very first industrial demonstrator in Boulbon, Bouches-du -Rhône.

His start-up, BioMiMetiC, breeds black soldier flies in order to complete the recovery cycle in just a few days. A new spin on an age-old process, this unique method leaves behind zero untapped residues thanks to the parallel production of animal proteins. We take a closer look at this new venture supported by Provence Promotion.

For the Avignon-based start-up BioMiMetiC, which specializes in insect-based bioconversion of waste, years of research have finally led it to the small town of Boulbon, in Arles-Crau-Camargue-Montagnette.

Damien Sabatier, its founder, drew his inspiration from a trip to South Africa ten years ago, where he discovered entomo-conversion while on an evaluation assignment. The inhabitants of a village who sorted their food waste explained that they used it for two things: first to fertilize their fields, and second to feed fish from a nearby pond, like fish farmers, using the insect larvae they collected.

A few years later, in 2017, he created BioMiMetiC in Avignon in order to experiment with the process, ascertain the biology of black soldier flies, which were identified as the most effective insect for biowaste recovery, and to study the feasibility of industrial development.

A strong push to decarbonize the sector

The BioMiMetiC model relies on close proximity to the targeted deposits, in order to quickly capture organic matter fresh from the harvests or packaging lines, and thereby minimize road transport. This also allows producers to optimize supply chain deliveries, ensuring that their trucks won't return empty.

Freshly collected and crushed, this material (former foodstuffs or agri-food co-products) is used as food for black soldier flies, which transform them into proteins and natural fertilizers. The bioconversion process takes place quickly, in just 7 days, and the larvae are separated from the residues to serve as protein raw materials in the livestock and animal feed sectors, including pet food and fish farming. This process is 100% circular, and produces zero waste.

An initial operational demonstrator in 2022

This biotechnology, whose development was supported by Grand Avignon, the SUD region, BPI and various banking partners, is now entering the scale-up phase in the Bouches-du-Rhône department.

In late 2020, the start-up initiated its first round of funding with private and public investors, including Région Sud Investissement, Ademe, Bpifrance and Total Energies Développement Régional, which support local greentech start-ups.

A springboard for nationwide development in Provence

BioMiMetiC met with Provence Promotion in 2019 during its search for plant locations. " With the lockdown and our location criteria, the search took longer than expected, but finally landed on a site in Boulbon. Provence Promotion supported us throughout the process. The agency helped us find opportunities and put us in touch with people interested in our concept,"  explained Damien Sabatier, who founded the start-up turned scale-up.

The initial 1,200 m2 plant will have a treatment capacity of 2,500 tons of biowaste per year, for a total investment of €1 million. This large-scale proof of concept is a stepping stone for establishing other units in Provence and nationwide, in line with the current need for autonomous and sustainable strategic sectors in France.

In the future, BioMiMetiC also plans to recover organic matter resulting from human activities in urban and peri-urban areas. The soon-to-be 8-strong team is expected to double in 2022.

BioMiMetiC has established numerous partnerships in Provence with Aix-Marseille-University, Inserm, Ifria and Critt Agroalimentaire, and will soon become a member of Food In Paca.