TEL AVIV, ISRAEL — Insect-protein producer Flying SpArk, Tel Aviv, has been added to the first Ikea Bootcamp start-up accelerator program. More than 1,200 applicants from 86 countries were submitted for consideration, but only 10 start-ups will be attending the boot camp at the Ikea product development center in Älmhult, Sweden, on Sept. 18.
Flying SpArk produces all-natural protein extracted from the Mediterranean fruit fly for use in foods for human consumption. This sustainable protein source is high in calcium, iron and potassium. It is also odorless and almost cholesterol-free.
“We are excited to join the Ikea accelerator and to have the opportunity to learn how to work with a giant retailer like Ikea,” said Eran Gronich, co-founder and chief executive officer of Flying SpArk. “This will completely enhance our product development and how we progress. Ikea will mentor and work with our team toward eventually collaboration between the companies to develop a product and hopefully to launch it at Ikea’s restaurants.”
Flying SpArk’s stated mission is to create a high-quality protein ingredient packed with essential minerals, raised and harvested according to sustainable principles. With the global population expected to surpass 9 billion within the next generation, Ikea was attracted to its fight against growing malnutrition.
According to Innova Market Insights research, the use of edible insects grew more than 58% between 2011 and 2015. Thirty-two per cent of product launches were in the bars category, but 12% were meat substitute products. Crickets are most commonly used and are found in 56% of insect-based food products.
Flying SpArk chose to use fruit fly protein, because farming them requires minimal water and land use. They also harvest themselves with no human intervention, allowing for clean farming.
“This constitutes a forward-thinking and innovative way to help the world redress hunger and malnutrition,” Mr. Gronich said. “Millennials want to create a more sustainable world ? to make it a better place for all of us ? and they are willing to add insect flour to their food to help achieve this goal.”
So far, Flying SpArk has raised $1 million with help from both the Israel Innovation Authority and The Kitchen, a food-tech incubator sponsored by Israeli food conglomerate The Straus Group. Its inclusion in Ikea’s Bootcamp is expected to help build momentum for the company as it makes inroads toward building the infrastructure and technologies necessary to further develop its products.