The Group is investing in futuristic projects designed to develop outlets for national seed and oilseed products. Because of the Avril Group's model, based on the requirements of the farming sector, these values have always aimed to foster positive repercussions serving the general interest – for both farmers and society. In this approach based on collaboration and dialogue, research work is carried out within joint innovation platforms, where Avril combines skills and a multidisciplinary approach in partnership with public research bodies, universities, technology centres, national institutes and manufacturers (start-ups, very small companies, SMEs and big groups) with which it has an active relationship.
IMPROVE: tools for vegetable proteins
IMPROVE (Institut Mutualisé pour les PROtéines VEgétales: joint institute for vegetable proteins) is the first European platform totally dedicated to developing vegetable proteins. Launched in 2013, and based in Dury (Somme), it brings together manufacturers, institutions and research centres to acquire knowledge on the properties of protein compounds and their extraction, and create and develop vegetable protein-based products designed for a wide range of markets:
- human and animal nutrition,
- renewable chemistry.
By combining knowledge and resources, IMPROVE speeds up the innovation process and marketing of these new products.
This platform is Avril's main centre of research for vegetable proteins. An initial programme is focused on devising new techniques for extracting protein from oilseed meal, a by-product of seed-crushing. The aim is to extract protein compounds with high nutritional value for food.
The IMPROVE platform is supported by a group of manufacturers and the State through the Future Investment Programme. The operator for this project is the Caisse des Dépôts. The Picardie Region also helped to fund the creation of the technology unit.
P.I.V.E.R.T: the plant biorefinery of the future
The task of the Energy Transition Institute P.I.V.E.R.T. (Picardie plant-based innovations, teaching and technological research), created in 2012, is to develop plant chemistry based on oilseed biomass. Located in Picardie in Venette (Oise), it combines the worlds of research and industry in view of building a competitive French sector that can provide new outlets for national products. Its aim is to create the plant biorefinery of the future, which will make use of the entire plant – through eco-processes – to produce human and animal nutrition, renewable chemistry and energy. This initiative is part of a sustainable development approach where various skills in plant-based products, technological processes and chemistry come together in a single basin of activity. The concept of the biorefinery involves a genuine industrial ecosystem in which the by-products of some activities can be used as raw materials for others, while recycling energy, water and effluents. P.I.V.E.R.T. receives contributions from its academic and industrial partners, support from the Future Investment fund, managed by France's National Research Agency, and funding from the Picardie region and the Compiègne Region metropolitan area.
"P.I.V.E.R.T. is based on a simple approach. In the realm of chemistry, a single player can do nothing on its own. We are now working in synergy with other chemists to develop the 3.0 biorefinery, with multi-raw materials, multi-products, and independence in terms of energy."
P.I.V.E.R.T.: key figures in 2015
- Over 100 PhD students, PhDs and Master II graduates
- 54 projects already under way
- €45 millions' worth of investment in projects
- 10 patents filed by the end of 2014
CREOL: improving extraction processes
CREOL (centre for research and experimentation on protein and oilseed) is a research and development platform dedicated to oilseed processing.
Based in Pessac (Gironde), this joint-stock company is a subsidiary shared by CETIOM (www.cetiom.fr), and the Avril Group. Through the small-scale reproduction of operations carried out in the industry, the pilot factory explores new methods of use, further optimises factory operations, experiments with innovative extraction processes, and develops pressing conditions for new seeds. CREOL works alongside other research centres within and outside France. As one of the projects currently under way, the ProBio3 programme aims to produce biofuels based on microbial lipids. This is being carried out in partnership with several manufacturers, including Airbus, in liaison with Toulouse White Biotechnology.
TOULOUSE WHITE BIOTECHNOLOGY (TWB): new avenues for sustainable production
TWB is a preindustrial demonstration structure for the biotechnology and health sectors. The activity began in 2011 in Toulouse, bringing together around 30 partners within a private/public consortium. The Avril Group is part of the initiative. The aim of TWB is to promote white biotechnologies and foster the development of innovative biological tools (enzymes and micro-organisms), thus opening the way to new methods of producing chemical molecules, biomaterials and biofuels.
TWB receives financial support from its public and private partners, and from the French National Research Agency through the Future Investment programme.
FERME D'INNOVATIONS ET DE RECHERCHE IN SOURCHES: animals at the heart of innovation
The Ferme d'Innovations et de Recherche (innovation and research farm) in Sourches is Europe's first private animal nutrition innovation and research centre. The organisation carries out experiments on animal feed, breeding techniques and crops, paying particular attention to preserving the environment and promoting animal welfare.
For further information about the Sourches innovation and research approach for the animal product sector (link)