An Edible Packaging Material has arrived on Our Dining Table

  • 15. April 2020
  • Cooperation projects,
  • News,
  • Success story
An Edible Packaging Material has arrived on Our Dining Table
  • 15. April 2020
  • Cooperation projects,
  • News,
  • Success story
Decomer Technology

We often hear about smart ideas and even smarter enterprises in the Estonian economy. Many of those companies have been established by researchers or students at the university and they are located near scientific development centers or universities. The task of these enterprises or spin-offs is helping to market new high-technological and science-intensive technologies and promote entrepreneurship that is based on scientific, developmental and innovative activity.

Even though Decomer Technology is not a spin-off enterprise, its members acknowledge the help from scientific institutions in the development of their enterprise.

Kelly Kangur, the person responsible for the business development of Decomer Technology and developing the edible packaging material, explains: “University has sympathized with us a lot and we know, that the University of Tartu helps us in every possible way.”

She adds, that although the enterprise had its beginning in the University of Tartu, they are now also represented in Silicon Valley as well, thanks to participating and investment in IndieBio, the world´s biggest accelerator in natural sciences.

The nature-friendly alternative to plastic bags

The idea behind the soluble honey portion came about during another innovative development. Mart Salumäe, responsible for the technological and product development of the enterprise, started to test out various alternatives to oil-based plastic materials during his Master´s studies.

The original idea was to create a 100% nature-friendly alternative to ordinary plastic bags. Kangur says: “Unfortunately or luckily, the plastic, that Mart had developed, dissolved in water too quickly and thus we had to brainstorm other alternatives, to benefit from the properties of the plastic. An entirely edible material was born, that is completely harmless to people and the environment. It is vegetarian and its basic material does not originate from agricultural resources. It means, that our approach is more ethical and sustainable than using food as packaging material. From there on, we had to think about the developments, where we could use it.”

The convenience of the dissolving edible packaging material is that the enterprise can modify the material according to the needs and field of use. An important role is naturally played by know-how and producing technologies and apparatus. In the light of it all, the ministering strategy of the incorporeal property, that has been built up of several levels, is more important.

Thus Decomer Technology has developed several novel product categories, of which one of them is the aforementioned honey portion, but there are other products entering the market as well. Kangur notes: “Our product that is soon ready for the market, is not directly focused on solubility, but rather on the environmentally-friendly way of packaging.”

There are two parallel directions in the business model of Decomer Technology. In the case of B2B (products and services directed from enterprises to enterprises), the developed material is offered to other enterprises, which means they would be the producers of the basic material. In the case of B2C (products and services directed to the final customer) though, they are focused on developing their own products.

On the way to bigger markets

Although in the beginning, the main contribution went into inherent products in the food industry, now many globally known producers of food and prime necessity products have shown interest towards the nature-friendly packaging solutions of the enterprise by. Kangur emphasises, that their product can be safely used in food production and other fields and comments on the backstages of the international collaboration: “I can say, that many bigger producers of consumables in the world have shown interest in our plastic material, and whom we are in the middle of negotiations. Nature-friendly materials are topical in the whole world and it is nice that people want to create products using our material (which is vegetarian, soluble and edible, depending on the usage) in particular. The entire industry of packaging is heading towards producing as durable materials as possible and by increasing the societal knowledge about the environment. It is nice, that Decomer Technologies, with its products, is one of the important icebreakers in that field.”

Author: Kaja Mõts

Photo: Decomer Technology

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