#startuppers - TicInsect and the soldier fly that will help the food revolution

(L to R) Elena Bittante and Elisa Filippi, co-founders of TicInsect
(L to R) Elena Bittante and Elisa Filippi, co-founders of TicInsect
(L to R) Leonardo Conte and Anais Schmidt
(L to R) Leonardo Conte and Anais Schmidt

Il Litorale

Food waste is a problem that affects all industrialised countries around the globe. Also, little or nothing is known about the food we eat, the production chains and the resources used. To describe the value that can come from waste and proving that the circular economy is not only a principle but can be translated into a business, is the the fourth and final story of #startuppers. The webseries produced by RSI in collaboration with USI, featuring students and researchers in support of budding companies.  

Let's make two accounts: the world throws away 40% of the food produced, which in means 1.3 billion tons of food waste in a year. Food that for the most part does not even reach our tables. Switzerland alone wastes 300 kilos of food per capita each year - the highest percentage in Europe. And from Switzerland - from the Italian-speaking region - comes the solution. The proposal by the agronomist Elisa Filippi with her TicInsect project is to use waste from the local food industry for the production of animal feed obtained from the processing of Hermetia illucens, better known as the 'black soldier fly', which are perfect substitutes for protein commonly sourced from soybean and fishery crops. The flour meals obtained - for animal and vegetable use only - have high nutritional values, which not only reduce the anthropogenic impact on the ecosystem but also provide for the sustainability of the food system.

"I hope to do something positive for this planet and leave something better for my son and future generations," says Elisa Filippi, mother and entrepreneur, who ranked third at the Boldbrain Startup Challenge in 2018 with her TicInsect project. Since then, the startup has been incubated at the USI CP Start-up and is now looking for "a young, clear, practical perspective on how to communicate to anyone - to the citizen who wants to embrace this project, but also to the investor who wants to understand how a fly can help the food revolution in Switzerland", explains Elisa.

Storytelling about a sustainable food supply chain is the challenge which Anais Schmidt (graduate student at the USI Master in Corporate Communication) and Leonardo Conte (graduate at the USI Master in Economics and International Politics and now PhD student at the USI Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society) have accepted. Communication strategies based on scientific literature and good business practices that have also attracted the interest of Elena Bittante, co-founder of the startup. And if for Anais "digital platforms must be used at a time when there is a lot of attention to the issue of sustainability, especially by millennials and post-millennials", for Leonardo the real challenge "is to put in place strategies capable of translating the circular economy concept into true business activities, also through the engagement of partners and stakeholders". 

The five episodes of #startuppers featuring TicInsect are available (in Italian) at the “Quick links" in the sidebar. For information on the #startuppers series: www.litorale.usi.ch/en/feeds/8914