Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Specific challenge: Due to their nutritional and functional properties, bioactive compounds (e.g. specific carbohydrates, peptides or lipids) find important markets in human and animal nutraceuticals, food additives and cosmetics. Their production poses two main challenges: (i) although found in nature, many are only present at very low levels, so that massive land usage is needed to obtain sufficient amounts; moreover, the quality of harvested material is not constant. (ii) chemical production processes (as for chitosan) are associated with a high environmental impact.

Meso-organisms have been proven able to convert agro-based residues (e.g. cereal residues, sugar residues or oil rich plant residues) into unique highly bioactive protein-rich, lipid-rich and chitin-rich bioactive compounds with very high efficiency (higher than any other known eukaryotic organism) and lower costs than micro-organism-based technologies. However the development of such process is not yet fully established and resulting products still need improvements to meet the requirements of the mentioned markets, in particular concerning safety for the customers.

Scope: Development of breakthrough approaches to obtain sustainable bioactive compounds from agro-based residues through bioconversion of meso-organisms (i.e. terrestrial invertebrates), mild recovery, functionalization and activation. Research should focus on high value products, rather than commodities. Targeted applications of chitins, lipids and bioactive peptides include nutraceuticals, food additives and cosmetics markets. A life-cycle assessment should be carried out in order to evaluate the environmental and socio-economic performance of the developed products. Proposals should address full risk assessment, including HACCP, regulatory implications (e.g. market authorisation), contaminant analysis, allergy and exposure analysis based on consumption and use data.

It is considered that proposals with a total eligible budget of at least EUR 2 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals with another budget.

Expected impact:

·         Increasing value for agro-based residues compared to their current application by the conversion to new higher value functional products.

·         Opening of new markets for chitin, peptides and fatty acids and making available new nutraceutical and cosmetic components with enhanced bioactive properties (e.g. antimicrobial and antifungi)

·         Delivering bioactive compounds with an increase of 10% in bioactivity with respect to similar products and a 25% reduction in environmental impact (GHG emissions, water pollution) as compared to conventional fatty acid or chitosan production.

Enabling the mobilisation of currently unused sidestreams and reducing the import of materials (e.g. chitosan).
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