English translation of Embion’s portrait by Innovaud. French version available here.


Embion Technologies has developed a next-generation catalyst that converts agricultural and food production waste into a sustainable, low-impact source of raw materials. Thanks to Embion’s technology, usually wasted biomass is transformed into high value-added solutions for the food, cosmetics, pharmaceutical and animal nutrition industries. This not only reduces organic waste, but also makes more efficient the use of the planet’s resources and promotes a holistic approach to production cycles.


Georgios Savoglidis, CEO of Embion, created the company in 2016 with two co-founders – Sviatlana Siankevich and Georgios Fengos – then all three researchers at EPFL: the catalyst they had developed to convert lignocellulose, or vegetable matter, into functional nutritional products had the potential to address the global challenge of food waste. Georgios Savoglidis explained to us how Embion’s patented technology contributes to making food and agricultural production more sustainable and why, after considering several solutions, he chose the canton of Vaud to create his company.


How is your catalyst helping to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of halving food waste by 2030?
Our technology converts much of the waste from agriculture and food processing into compounds needed for other production processes – either to create specialty products for the food industry or to serve as ingredients for the livestock feed or animal nutrition. Lignocellulose currently accounts for a large portion of biomass waste and is an underutilized food resource. With our catalyst, lignocellulose polymers are converted into functional nutritional oligomers that hold great potential in a number of applications. Embion’s idea is to recover and reuse existing raw materials and thus contribute to preserving the Earth’s natural resources. Specifically, we extract new compounds from food industry waste, which manufacturers can then use to meet consumer demand for nutritional products that also contribute to sustainable food systems.


What are the main applications of your technology?
A key factor in the decision to start our business was the traction we saw in the food industry. Throughout the value chain, companies are looking for technologies like ours to make their processes more sustainable. Our first product, PREMBION, is made from spent grains (brewing residues) from beer production and transformed into ingredients intended mainly for animal feed, but soon also for food and beverages, cosmetics and certain pharmaceutical products. It should be emphasized that our catalysts are designed as a technology platform; in that they can serve as the basis for the development of custom processes targeting different molecules and organic compounds as well as end uses.

Our business model is based on the sale of our product – that is to say our catalyst platform – as well as on the licenses to use our technology. Large multinationals in the food industry are more interested in granting such licenses, as they already have biomass waste from their own operations. What they are looking for are ways to create more value from these sources of waste. On the other hand, more modest players tend to contact us for more specific specialized applications with high added value, and we support them in the development of these applications until industrialization.


What advantages do you see in being based in the canton of Vaud?
From our beginnings, our roots in the region have enabled us to easily establish contacts in the food industry, in particular with food processing companies and suppliers of flavors and fragrances. This allowed us to refine our value proposition and ensure that what we were developing was indeed relevant to the market. We then filed several patents to protect our technology and contacted Innovaud to find out about the various funding programs in Vaud. We thus obtained a loan from the FIT which then paved the way for significantly more funding from Innosuisse; and we also received non-dilutive funding from Venture Kick.

But beyond the financial aspect, we found that this region offers entrepreneurs important support: coaching, networking opportunities and events to increase visibility. In addition, EPFL’s R&D ecosystem is an excellent resource thanks to the numerous synergies with our type of activity. Before deciding to settle in the canton of Vaud, we carried out research on other innovation centers in Switzerland and elsewhere. What tipped the scales was the whole ecosystem here, which is centered around EPFL, but also includes lots of start-ups and large tech companies. This brings tangible and substantial benefits to start-ups like ours.


What are your next business development projects at the Vaud and international level?
We are currently exploring the possibility of expanding our production facilities, which we will no doubt be done here, locally. We want to keep our company’s intellectual property and core technology in Switzerland, as close as possible to where it was developed. In terms of our workforce, we are expanding our business development and operations teams; and we recently hired a new chief operating officer who has notable experience in the food industry. We also plan to expand geographically and establish a regional presence in major markets such as Asia and the United States. We have just completed a Series A funding round led by Asahi, a major Japanese brewery, and are recruiting employees for our first international office in North America.


Are there any work challenges that keep you up at night?
What Embion offers is a breakthrough technology the industry has never seen before. And it’s a double-edged sword: on the one hand, it brings a wealth of new opportunities, but on the other it takes a lot more effort to educate our customers about the benefits of our technology platform and how it can be implemented. Not to mention the challenges that any start-up company faces in growing its operations and ensuring that its capacity is in line with the development of its activities. But I would say that at the end of the day, it all comes down to having the right people, with the right skills and the right mindset, to work together and achieve our ultimate goal of fighting food waste.