Beta Bugs: Shaping the Future of Sustainable Protein

Posted on: 17/02/2022

Insect protein has the potential to help address key global challenges such as feeding a growing world population while reducing land use and providing environmental benefits key to Net Zero targets.

The KTN AgriFood team helps companies at all stages of their journey, including start-ups at the early stage of the innovation life cycle like Beta Bugs. Click here to find out how we could help you.

The need 

As the world’s population continues to rise and people’s eating habits change, it is estimated that global meat production will double by 2050 (FAO, 2019). In order to sustainably supply animal feed to help meet this rapidly growing demand, alternatives to existing feeds which have a large environmental impact such as soya or fishmeal are required.

Insect protein has strong potential to supply high quality protein for animal feed to address this demand, utilising food waste as part of the production process.

The solution 

One of the most promising insect protein opportunities is farming black soldier flies, which feed on food waste which would otherwise be thrown away, and turn it into natural high quality protein for use in animal feed. This is a rapidly emerging industry sector and the UK has several highly innovative companies working in the space, with the potential for rapid growth.  However, the pace of development can be accelerated to drive positive change via collaboration between key players with complementary skills.

How did KTN help? 

KTN has been working with UK insect protein companies to develop their individual R&D pipelines for several years. KTN recognised that connecting these companies would help accelerate ambitious ideas into real-world solutions.

In response to a new funding opportunity via the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund –  Transforming Food Production programme, KTN helped bring together leading UK companies to develop a large collaborative funding bid, with the potential to transform the insect protein sector in the UK. The KTN AgriFood team used its deep expertise to provide key support during the bid development process, ensuring their project idea and consortium were well aligned  with the competition.

This funding bid was successful and awarded £5.9m Innovate UK funding as part of a £9.8m black soldier fly project, the largest ever state research grant in the insect protein space.

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The impact 

The ambitious project aims to establish the UK as an international centre of excellence for black soldier fly farming and forecasts a strong impact. By 2040, it aims to have delivered over 100 sites internationally and created 3300 UK based jobs. It also plans to have generated combined annual revenues of £400m for UK tax paying businesses. It will have delivered savings of 50m tonnes CO2 equivalent, driving the industry closer to the UK Government’s targets for Net Zero emissions.

"KTN has been supporting innovative UK insect protein companies for several years now by helping them access funding from Innovate UK and other sources, new partnerships and through our sector insights. We were proud to help bring this network of innovators together for the Insectrial Revolution project. The project will establish the UK as a leader in the production of this game changing sustainable protein source."

Charles Vander Broek, Knowledge Transfer Manager AgriFood, KTN

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