Thursday, 05 December 2019 08:58

Saving the sea through entrepreneurship

Written by  "Cohesion through EUSBSR" project

“While writing my Bachelor’s thesis, I really started to think what I want to do when I graduate. It took some time to figure it out but eventually two things stood out clearly: being an entrepreneur and making the world a better place," tells Paavo Vallas, an entrepreneur from Finland.


"After realizing this, I enrolled a course on entrepreneurship. During that time, I also started to develop the idea of utilizing fish to improve the state of the Baltic Sea.” 

Our sea is full of fish, which is a sustainable source of protein and have lots of potential in our kitchens. “No one is just really doing it,” Paavo points out. This realization led Paavo to develop further his idea and eventually to start his own business. It took several years from the idea to the point he is at the moment: having an actual product, Särvin, in grocery stores. “But now we are there, and it is very exciting!”

“I believe this is the world’s first minced fishmeat product.” When looking at the product, it does look like minced meat, something that we are all familiar with. But there is a major difference between these two: minced fishmeat has a much lower impact on the environment, and its production actually reduces nutrification in the Baltic Sea. “With our product, the consumer doesn’t have to learn new skills in the kitchen, but can just cook more environmental friendly.”



 Fish mincemeat, Särvin, from pan to table


How can private sector benefit from EU projects?

The company shares a similar vision and goals as many projects working to improve the state of the Baltic Sea by removing nutrients. For this reason, it was only natural that Särkifood worked together with an EU funded project, NutriTrade. The company has benefitted a lot from this cooperation:”It is really important that people know that there is a problem in the sea, but that we can also solve the problem. For an entrepreneur, it is very helpful that someone is raising awareness of a topic that is essentially connected to my product aimed at consumers.”


Advice for starting your own company

Young entrepreneurs like Paavo are relatively rare in the Baltic Sea Region, and in the whole EU as well. The average rate of self-employed young people (age 15-29) in the EU is around 5%.[1] Being an entrepreneur is more common among men than women. As youth unemployment is one of the top challenges in the EU, making entrepreneurship a more attractive option for European youth could be one solution to decrease youth unemployment.

For those thinking about a career as an entrepreneur, Paavo gives some advice: “Choose a topic that is meaningful and that you truly care about. Don’t just think about money and fame, because if you lack passion, you won’t have the energy to push through the difficult times.” For Paavo, helping the environment has been the driving force and made him work hard towards his goal. And now, the work is paying off: ”My goal from the beginning was that one day the company is utilizing 1 million kilos of cyprinid fish every year, and now we are steadily reaching that goal,” Paavo says.


[1] Massimiliano Mascherini (2015): Young Entrepreneurs In Europe: Values, Attitudes And Policies.


Read more about NutriTrade! 


The article is part of an European Union funded project "Cohesion through EUSBSR" promoting positive results of EU Cohesion policy in the Baltic Sea macro-region (EUSBSR). 

The article reflects only the author's view and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains. 


With financial support from the European Union



Read 2749 times Last modified on Thursday, 05 December 2019 10:59