Scottish insect genetics company Beta Bugs announced that it has raised €1.46M to scale up the production, sale, and supply of its black soldier fly (BSF) eggs and larvae. The insect farming sector will use them as a sustainable alternative to current protein sources for animal feed.
The funding round was led by TRICAPITAL Syndicate LLP with participation from SIS Ventures, Scottish Enterprise, Beeches Group, and Climate.vc with other shareholders in business and InnovateUK.
Beta Bugs has developed the UK’s first comprehensive selective breeding programme and egg production site for black soldier flies. The company’s flagship black soldier fly product is dubbed “HiPer-Fly,” bred with a focus on quantity traits to boost produce yield.
Beta Bugs farms this fly species on various waste streams to create an alternative protein source for aquaculture, pork, and poultry feed.
Replacing conventional animal feed
Conventional farming methods have become unsustainable in the long run since they cause biodegradation. With the global population forecast to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, livestock farming will require an additional 539m hectares of land to produce animal feed with conventional farming methods.
Moray Martin, Managing Partner of The TRICAPITAL Syndicate, says, “Insect farming is increasingly seen as a sustainable alternative protein source that could help mitigate the predicted increase in protein demand over the coming decades.”
“The significantly lower environmental impact of insect farming places the sector at the forefront of sustainable food source development. In that context we are delighted to be able to support the acceleration of Beta Bugs to commercial scale,” adds Martin.
Insect farming for food production
Compared to animal feed from soy and fish, black soldier flies provide a more green, circular, and regionally-produced animal feed. Although companies have farmed these insects for the past decade, the decision to genetically improve the black soldier flies for large-scale production is a recent phenomenon.
By improving the fly’s genetic performance and supplying them at commercially meaningful scales, Beta Bugs can provide superior larvae to insect producers and compete with soy and fish meals at a reasonable price.
The successful funding round for Beta Bugs establishes the potential for the insect genetic company to turn insects into a future sustainable alternative protein source for food production.
“We have supported Beta Bugs through our high growth ventures team as well as financially and this recent investment will help the company fly high as it expands the team and continues to develop its sustainable and innovative insect protein solutions,” says Kerry Sharp, Director of Entrepreneurship and Investment at Scottish Enterprise.
“It’s a great example of a Scottish biotech scale-up providing value in the supply chain for the agriculture industry and with benefits for the economy and environment,” adds Sharp.