In today’s interview we get to know the startup Encapsulae. We interview its CEO, Javier Menéndez.
What problem does your start-up address and what solution does it propose?
Encapsulae offers solutions for active plastic packaging in food. The problem to be solved requires significant advances aimed at reducing food waste and promoting packaging circularity. Solutions to the problem must focus on efficiently preserving food to allow responsible use of resources. Furthermore, these solutions must allow both the recycling of polymeric containers and their circularity once their useful life is over. Encapsulae’s proposal consists of the modification and encapsulation of food additives for their incorporation into the active packaging. These encapsulated additives are micrometric and therefore are safe for use in food. The use of active packaging allows us to design new single-component but multifunctional packaging, which is recyclable compared to the multi-layer packaging currently used. As a highlight, Encapsulae is a pioneer in providing biodegradation accelerators for plastic packaging based on biomaterials. This way, when the end of the packaging cycle arrives, it is incorporated as a crop fertilizer and thus reduces the environmental impact of single-use plastic products.
How and why did you start this entrepreneurial adventure?
When a scientific advance is achieved in the laboratory, like this one, it is immediately apparent that the field of applications can be important. Encapsulae is founded by entrepreneurs with previous experiences in other startups. The group of entrepreneurs combines experience in product development, processes and marketing. This fact has prevented us from making some beginner mistakes and has allowed us to build a company with a defined strategy. However, translating scientific advances into technological products requires very different knowledge and a multidisciplinary environment that has led us to complete profiles that are very different from those of entrepreneurs and complementary ones.
There are two important aspects of startup growth. The first, develop a commercial product. All efforts must go in the direction of a product that can be sold. Going to market is the best incentive that a startup can have. Contact with the client reorients you and very clearly defines the real need of the market. Many times there is a reorientation of both the product and the message that said product presents. The second point is financing. Encapsulae has been able to remain free of professional investors. Companies that invest in the early stages of startups tend to be very controlling, and in their desire to help the company grow, they often frustrate the hope of reaching the market.
How do you expect the sector to evolve? And what expectations do you have for your start-up?
The food packaging market has undergone and is undergoing a drastic change in a very short time. The demonization of plastics is causing an earthquake for the sector. Plastic is a product with exceptional properties. However, the misuse of plastic in terms of product design and its management at the end of use has led society to significantly reject all products that use plastic. The consumer wants more sustainable products. Governments see a source of income via taxes on plastics that are not transferred to improving management systems.
Food companies demand new solutions from the packaging value chain. This represents an excellent opportunity for companies that bring innovation to a market that is no longer immobile and is highly dynamic.
Any new developments in the near future that you would like to share with the rest of the start-ups?
The future is built now. Using new materials, new, more sustainable and environmentally friendly products can be designed. There is an exceptional opportunity for startups like Encapsulae, which provide solutions to a very relevant problem. The responsibility of reducing the use of plastics falls on companies, and they need ideas that allow them to move forward. Much progress has been made so far and it is clear that plastic was previously used excessively in many applications. Currently, the superfluous excess of plastic in the packaging has been eliminated, but the following advances require more efforts than thinning the walls of a bottle to a minimum. Now is an especially interesting time for startups developing innovative technologies.
In what areas would you like to collaborate with other start-ups, companies or other organisations?
Since its inception, Encapsulae has collaborated with startups, companies, public research organizations, technology centers and associations of different kinds. Encapsulae’s model is open innovation. This business strategy opens up unexpected fields of application for us. We have recently launched a food container that has a barrier effect against insect pests. This product opens up fields of application for us in sustainable agriculture and we are very interested in continuing to collaborate to learn from the enormous amount of talent that is flourishing and undertaking in this country.