Cryophilic enzymes: the new commitment for the aquaculture sector that wins the funds of Crea y Valida of CORFO

The work presented by the animal nutrition expert NovaPro Spa, in collaboration with the Center for Biotechnology and Bioengineering (CeBiB), was awarded over 100 million pesos in the recent call for the Create and Validate Collaborative R+D+i of CORFO. The award-winning project aims to develop a blend of enzymes isolated from Chilean native ecosystems with activity at low temperatures, to include them as an additive in salmon feed and improve the bioavailability of nutrients.

The Crea y Valida I+D+i innovation competition, managed by CORFO and financed through the Ministry of Science, which coordinates the promotion of scientific-technological innovation, has the objective of “supporting the development of new or improved, technology-based processes and/or services, from prototypes, to their technical validation on an industrial and commercial scale that solve problems and/or challenges in the manufacturing sector or address a market opportunity, to Research and Development (R+D+ i )”, is national in scope and allows the connection of companies with research centers specialized in areas of knowledge compatible with the proposed challenges.

cryophilic enzymes

In the aquaculture sector, most of the cultivated species are carnivorous, which means that they require a high protein intake to achieve adequate growth, which is why feed accounts for more than 50% of the production cost. On the other hand, due to health and environmental regulations and because of its high cost, the food is no longer based on animal proteins (such as fishmeal), today the diet consists of 70% from proteins of vegetable origin. . However, these new proteins are not easily metabolized by fish, leading to incomplete nutrient uptake and negatively impacting their growth and aquatic environment.

In the case of terrestrial animal nutrition, the incorporation of enzymes into food to increase the bioavailability of nutrients is something that exists and is done. However, most of the commercial enzymes have the characteristic of working at temperatures higher than those present in the stomach of the fish, which makes their application impossible. The Center for Biotechnology and Bioengineering (CeBiB) has a set of cryophilic enzymes (which work at low temperatures), from which this scientific collaboration was born which seeks to obtain an enzymatic mixture for salmon that allows them to enhance their feeding process , improving feed conversion .

René Pinochet, general manager and founder of NovaPro, explained the advantages of the applied technology “strictly speaking, these enzymes will act by bringing a part of the available food that is not available and which will generate efficiency in the use of food, a productive and also a environmental impact,” he said.

In turn, in preliminary estimates, the animal nutrition company calculated an impact of 35 million dollars in food annually.

The industry has shown great interest in this technological application “there are also transnational companies that are interested in this development, who view this type of technology very favorably. There is interest because today there are no enzymes that are used in salmon, the truth is that there are so many things to do”, Pinochet stressed.

NovaPro predicts that in about 18 months, they could have an enzyme defined, validated and tested, which will allow them to begin initial product development and then generate technology scaling. They plan to produce the enzyme blend on a massive scale and use it extensively not only in Chile, but in other countries as well.

René Pinochet underlined the importance of developing a project together with the academy and the high level of the Biotechnology and Bioengineering Center “it was a super positive experience working with CeBiB because they have a lot of super interesting things for different sectors. I was surprised by the level of development of their products, their students, their researchers, the level of contacts they have and the professional quality that it entails,” he stressed.

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