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Scottish startup Beta Bugs snaps £1.7M to scaleup insect farming, a green alternative for animal feeds

Beta Bugs funding
Picture credits: Beta Bugs

Scottish insect genetics business Beta Bugs has secured £1.72 million in funding. The round was led by The TRICAPITAL Syndicate LLP, with participation from SIS Ventures that invested in Microplate Dx, Scottish Enterprise, Beeches Group,, together with existing shareholders in the business and InnovateUK. 

Beta Bugs will use the funds to scale up the production, sale, and supply of its Black Soldier Fly eggs and larvae to the insect farming sector, as a sustainable alternative to current sources of protein for animal feed. Also, the investment will allow the company to expand its production capacity, drive to profitability over the next 18 to 24 months, and strengthen its market leadership position in the insect farming industry.

Sustainable Black Soldier Fly farming

Founded in 2017 by Thomas Farrugia, Beta Bugs has developed the UK’s first comprehensive selective breeding programme and egg production site for the Black Soldier Fly. This insect 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. 

Beta Bugs provides 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. This is possible by improving  Black Soldier Fly genetic performance and supplying it at commercial scales. 

Recently, Beta Bugs appointed Chris Richards as Non-Executive Chair. Chris is a recognised veteran of the international agribusiness industry with broad experience in building science-based businesses into successful enterprises.

Thomas Farrugia, CEO and Founder of Beta Bugs said “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. 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.”

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.”

Kerry Sharp, Director of Entrepreneurship and Investment at Scottish Enterprise, said: “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. It’s a great example of a Scottish bio tech scale up providing value in the supply chain for the agriculture industry and with benefits for the economy and environment.”

Arran Dewar, Executive Director, SIS Ventures said: “As the UK’s only insect genetics company, Beta Bugs is laying the foundation for a more sustainable global feed system. By creating jobs and diverting waste for its ground-breaking breeding programme, the business will deliver significant impact here in Scotland, with the potential to deliver even greater impact globally as the business grows and scales. We’re very happy to welcome Thomas and the team into the SIS Ventures portfolio and look forward to helping them achieve their impact goals.”

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