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Edinburgh insect farming startup Beta Bugs raises £1.7m

Beta Bugs
Beta Bugs CEO and founder, Thomas Farrugia. Image credit: Beta Bugs

Beta Bugs, a Scottish startup that genetically engineers insect eggs for alternative protein farming, has raised £1.72m.

Founded in 2017, the Edinburgh-based company has developed a selective breeding programme and egg production site for black soldier flies for use as livestock feed.

The practice of insect farming has exploded in popularity, with a recent study estimating there were as many as 1.2 trillion insects raised on farms annually.

According to Beta Bugs, farming black soldier flies reduces deforestation, biodiversity loss and overfishing as a result of producing enough protein to meet the demand.

Black soldier flies have often been used in farming, being one of the most popular sources of insect protein. However, Beta Bugs has said its crop of flies has been genetically improved for large-scale production.

Beta Bugs CEO and founder, Thomas Farrugia said the company’s modified breeding programme has “demonstrated consistent increases in black soldier fly genetic performance across multiple, economically valuable production traits”.

Farrugia added: “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 funding round was led by Tricapital Syndicate, with participation from SIS Ventures, Scottish Enterprise, Beeches Group, Climate.vc and additional support from InnovateUK.

“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,” said Moray Martin, managing partner of Tricapital Syndicate.

“The significantly lower environmental impact of insect farming places the sector at the forefront of sustainable food source development.”

Fellow players in the UK insect farming space include Entocycle, which closed a £4m Series A round in January, and Better Origin, which raised £12m last year.

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