According to the entrepreneur Jean-Gabriel Levon, of Ynsect
Ynsect is a start-up that uses insects to make flour for feeding fish and poultry. According to the entrepreneur: Jean-Gabriel Levon (X2005), the founder.
What gave you the idea for your start-up?
We got the idea from a report published in 2010 by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which identified insects as a major agro-industry component in the future.
What need/problem are you addressing?
In 2050, there will be between 9 and 10 billion human beings on earth, who in general will live better and eat more. This means we will need double the calories that we have today. The problem is that with the current system, the planet has already reached its limit.
Our insects are not a complete solution, but a small building block in the agro-industry of the future. Insects are capable of recycling plant and animal biomass that is poorly or little utilized today, and of re-injecting it into the agri-food or green-chemistry industries.
Ynsect is helping true eco-industry to emerge. The ultimate objective is to stop producing "waste" – but only raw materials for the subsequent industries in a long eco-industrial chain.
What three key words wold you use to describe the business you have created? / What is your economic model?
We are designers, operators and users of insect biorefineries. We extract molecules from insects which are useful to the agri-food and green chemistry markets.
Who are your main competitors, and how do you differentiate yourselves?
Today, Ynsect is a world leader in the emerging sector of insect biotechnologies. We have a lot of respect for our competitors. Nevertheless, we believe that we are the only player that views insects as a fully-fledged biotechnology, with the stringent requirements for quality and method that that implies. And as we speak, Ynsect is setting up a research center at Genopole (Essonne), one of the largest biotechnology centers in the world.
What do you like most about your team?
The team is the key element in a young business. You can do nothing without a competent and closely-knit team that can also react quickly and constantly develop the business's vision and objectives.
How are you linked to the X?
I'm an alumnus (X2005) and I participate in the various activities of the former-students association (Association des Anciens - AX), particularly via the X-Biotech group and the X breakfasts. The École's Foundation also supports us, because Ynsect won the Jean-Louis Gerondeau prize in 2012. I also take part in the Start-Up Cafés and was present at the École polytechnique's first Start-up Weekend in March 2014. It's very important to be able to inspire our young colleagues to attempt an entrepreneurial venture, and see it as a real first job.