A football star drives innovation in the bioeconomy

Home Technologist 08 A football star drives innovation in the bioeconomy

Not all professional athletes spend their fortunes frivolously.

Arsenal Press Conference

French footballer Mathieu Flamini, who shot to fame as a midfielder for the London team Arsenal, announced in November 2015 that he was the co-founder of a start-up specialising in organic compounds. Back in 2008 he had quietly launched GF Biochemicals with his Italian friend Pasquale Granataur. Flamini didn’t even tell his family or teammates: he first wanted to be sure that his start-up’s revolutionary process really worked. Working in partnership with the universities of Pisa and Milan, Flamini’s company is the first to produce levulinic acid from biomass on a commercial scale. Produced at a plant employing 80 people near Naples, the organic compound can be used to make fuels, pharmaceutical products and resins that are currently made from oil. The bioeconomy is a perfect career change for the 31-year-old footballer, who has played for France’s national team three times. Flamini could well make his second fortune from it.

► The levulinic acid market is estimated to be worth €26 billion.