Scottish insect genetics business Beta Bugs has secured £1.7 million investment to scale the production, sale and supply of its Black Soldier Fly eggs and larvae to the insect farming sector.
The funding round was led by The TRICAPITAL Syndicate LLP, with participation from SIS Ventures, Scottish Enterprise, Beeches Group, Climate.vc, together with existing shareholders in the business and InnovateUK.
Based in Edinburgh, Beta Bugs has developed the UK’s first comprehensive selective breeding programme and egg production site for the Black Soldier Fly, which is farmed as an alternative protein source for use in aquaculture, pork, and poultry feed and can be reared on various waste streams, including agricultural and food waste.
Black Soldier Fly farming provides a green, circular, and regionally produced alternative to the environmentally damaging production of soy meal and fishmeal, one of the prime causes of deforestation, biodiversity loss and overfishing.
Although these insects have been farmed commercially for the past decade, Black Soldier Fly have not, until now, been genetically improved for large-scale production. By improving Black Soldier Fly genetic performance and supplying it at commercially meaningful scales, Beta Bugs aims to provide superior larvae with which insect producers can increase both protein yield and quality for animal feed, enabling it to eventually compete with soy and fishmeal on price.
Established in 2017 by CEO and founder Thomas Farrugia, Beta Bugs is based in the Easter Bush Campus, Scotland – a centre of excellence for animal science and home to the Roslin Institute, renowned centre for animal genetics.
The business currently employs a team of 12 and will be looking to recruit another four full-time commercial and technical staff over the coming months.
As part of its growth plans, Beta Bugs has also appointed Chris Richards, a recognised veteran of the international agribusiness industry, as non-executive chair.
“Beta Bugs has supplied its industry-leading products to an increasing number of established and new entrant insect farmers in the UK and international markets,” said Farrugia.
“The company continues to develop its outstanding HiPer-Fly breeding programme, which has demonstrated consistent increases in Black Soldier Fly genetic performance across multiple, economically valuable production traits.
“Completing this investment will allow us to expand production capacity, drive to profitability over the coming 18-24 months and further strengthen our market leadership position in the strategically important insect farming industry.”
Moray Martin, managing partner of The TRICAPITAL Syndicate, said: “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.”