Metropolia Student Leading an Agricultural Revolution

Evening International Business and Logistics student, Ilkka Taponen is following his dream of making a difference in the world. In daytime, Ilkka is working with Insect Rearing Technology that he and his company believe will become the next big trend in the food and agriculture sector. Insects are nutritious and their protein and mineral levels can be compared directly to meat products. Meanwhile, they can be farmed very efficiently compared to traditional livestock. According to research, to produce a kilo of beef, it requires to use 12 times more feed than a kilo of crickets. In addition, the use of land and water is significantly lower.

On top of that, the ethics support insect farming over the traditional one. Highly dense populations in indoor locations are natural to mealworms, but not for mammals. Insect can be used as animal feed as well as a direct human food that is they act as a substitute for high protein products such as beef, fish and soya bean.

17. Worms

There are two main reasons why insect farming is raising more interest than ever and the Nordic Insect Economy was founded as well: first, the prices of substitute products have been rising consistently during the past few years and for example further increase of wild fish quotas is out of the question due to the danger of over fishing. Second, consumers are more aware of the unsustainable nature of traditional agriculture than ever.

The Nordic Insect Economy Limited is the first company in the Nordics to focus on the insect farming business. The company designs farming facilities that are sold to farmers. The selling is still yet to start as EU regulations ban all insect products from its home market. The regulations are expected to change by the end of the year, and that is when Ilkka and the Nordic Insect Economy expect to be ready.

Before joining the Nordic Insect Economy, Ilkka Taponen did his internship at Ynsect, a Paris-based insect farming company. During the internship, Ilkka wrote his thesis about risk management in the field.

Ilkka comments, “The fact that my thesis is one of the first in the world, combining business thinking and higher-scale insect farming tells of the novelty of the business. There are not many industries in the world today where you can call yourself the leading expert of your region by just writing a thesis and working for half-a-year.“ Doing both the internship and the thesis on this topic certainly paid off, since Ilkka was hired to Nordic Insect Economy even before the end of the internship.

17. bugAs he summarized Ilkka said, “I encourage everyone to look beyond the obvious choice and go bravely out of the comfort zone. I left a comfy home and a girlfriend in Finland to work in France, but the efforts paid off, it seems!”

Grace Ndiritu (with Ilkka Taponen), Images by Valtteri Hirvonen and Topi Kairenius