Far beneath Pyhäjärvi, the Finnish capital, start-up workers will find themselves in the sauna. It’s not a spa, though. And not the only workers who love the water.
This is the € 250,000 project at EntoCube’s 60-year-old mine, in which foodstuffs in underground farms develop, taking 28 degrees of geothermal heat from the soil.
The EU-supported company, which has purchased the deepest metal mine in Europe earlier this year is working with Callio Pyhäjärvi to explore new ways of running its underground tunnels.
EntoCube is specialized in building engineering for the cultivation of edible insects, created in 2014 by Robert Nemlander.
It also manufactures a range of edible insect products, including “nuts,” cricket granola and cricket powder, flavored with chili, that can be added to dishes to enhance the nutritional value and taste.
Almost one year ago EntoCube built a cricket store in the Pyhäjärvi mine and now has a 1,436 m deep cricket farm.
The decades-old zinc and copper mine may be an odd place, but it offers unique conditions suitable for insect farming.
The only one that bets high on bugs is not Nemlander. Investors also banking insects as an ecosystem-friendly source of food for the future.
According to data from Crunchbase and Rabobank, insect firms around the world earned more than $160 million in funding last year, three times as in the previous year.
Among Europe’s most well-funded insect farms are French startup Insect, which raised 125 million dollars earlier this year, and Protix which raised 50 million dollars in 2017.
But, in addition to the “ick factor” of the concept of feeding, the way bugs are the food of the future is a major obstacle: the economic component.