Bodø-based CapiPro wins prestigious young entrepreneur award for inventive worm fish-feed

By Elías Thorsson - June 12, 2024
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CEO Samson Steindal Vonen from CapiPro. PHOTO: Markus Thonhaugen / High North Center.

CapiPro, a pioneering company based in Bodø, has clinched the prestigious High North Young Entrepreneur Award at the Arctic Congress Bodø 2024. Their approach to using polychaete worms as a sustainable protein source in fish feed earned them top honors at the international pitch competition. All contender ideas were considered highly relevant for the Arctic – and with significant innovation potential.

Samson Steindal Vonen, CEO of CapiPro, expressed his excitement about the recognition, saying, “Receiving such recognition from an international audience means a lot. It’s fantastic and shows that people believe in what we are doing.”

CapiPro’s winning idea involves utilizing fish sludge from aquaculture farms to cultivate polychaete worms. These worms are then processed into a high-quality protein ingredient for fish feed. This method offers a sustainable alternative to traditional fish meal and could significantly reduce waste in the aquaculture industry.

Norway’s aquaculture sector generates over one million tons of fish sludge annually. Regulations require that 50% of this sludge in land-based operations must be recycled. CapiPro’s approach not only addresses waste management but also contributes to solving the global protein deficiency by providing a novel raw material for the aquaculture industry.

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CapiPro CEO Samson Steindal Vonen along with his team. (CapiPro)

While CapiPro has garnered accolades and significant support, including recent funding from Innovation Norway, they face regulatory challenges. Norwegian law currently prohibits the use of fish sludge in products related to human food. Vonen mentioned that until legal changes are made, they are focusing on using sugar kelp, which is currently permissible.

“We are purposefully working with relevant actors and wish to contribute to more circular value chains both in Norway and the EU,” said Vonen.

Vonen, who recently completed his master’s thesis in Entrepreneurship and Business Development at Nord University, emphasized the role his academic background played in CapiPro’s journey. “For the company’s part, it is not certain we would have started up without it,” he noted.

CapiPro’s team, consisting of five members is gearing up for their first commercial sales, targeted for the second quarter of 2025. Despite the hurdles, Vonen remains optimistic about their progress and the potential impact of their innovation on the aquaculture industry.

Recognition at Arctic Congress Bodø 2024

This year’s award was part of the Arctic Congress Bodø 2024, where over 1,200 participants from around the globe voted on the finalists. Competing against CapiPro were:

  • AirVitalize from Fairbanks, Alaska, presenting a technology to improve air quality.
  • AAVEQ ROBOTICS from Denmark, showcasing an autonomous sailing drone designed to manage waste sustainably in the Arctic.