A startup in Nairobi applies nanotech research to solve the waste problem in the food industry of the Saharan Africa

Nanotec_KE is a social enterprise company that offers Nano solutions for the food systems. It addresses a number of environmental problems related to waste materials that can be recycled and repurposed, especially in the geographical area of the Saharan Africa. Waste materials like starch or the residue from the production of fertilizers can be re-used to produce a replacement for plastic – a material that looks like plastic and feels like plastic.

The food system in the world faces many challenges including demographic growth, urbanization, sustainability and climate change. In the words of Bilshan Tamaha Keranga, co-founder and CEO of the startup, nanotechnology is the use of “very small things to solve very big problems.” He and his team members all have a background in science, covering disciplines from food science and genetics, from veterinary and the wild life to water systems and fertilizers.

Based in Nairobi, Kenya, Nanotec_KE (KE stands for Kenya) was founded in late 2020, in the middle of the pandemic. Contrary to the negative expectations that the young team had, the pandemic has helped accelerate certains steps that led to a successful launch of the startup.

The future will not take the startup unprepared: with a strategic plan for the next 7 years, the startup is cultivating new partnerships and is looking to implement its solutions on a large scale, not only transforming the food industry, but also changing minds, creating new jobs and opening up new opportunities through training, mentorship, and advancing research.


Federica Bressan is a researcher and science communicator. She holds two MDs in Music and Musicology and a PhD in Computer Science. The vision underlying her work concerns the co-evolution of technology and culture. As a Marie Curie and Fulbright researcher, she has published 30+ peer-reviewed articles, chaired international events, and guest edited a special issue of the Journal of New Music Research. As communicator, she conducts video interviews and hosts the podcast Technoculture, and writes about science and society. Visit Federica's podcast at: