Roslin Innovation Centre at the University of Edinburgh
Beta Bugs produces enhanced insect strains to help the growing insect farming industry tap into its full environmental and economic potential. There is a huge global demand for novel protein sources that could potentially be filled by insects.They are excellent sources of protein for feed and have a broad range of other applications, from biomaterials to fuel – and they are 150 times more space-efficient than soy. However, having only recently been domesticated, insects, unlike other agricultural species, are far from optimised for industry. There are huge improvements to be made in efficiency, quality of produce, and ease of farming. Through the application of state-of-the-art breeding programmes and biotechniques, Beta Bugs wants to change this and make the industry both more profitable and sustainable. The company has created and tested the world’s first protocol for insect evolution. The modular, scalable breeding units which they have designed are 100 times more space-efficient than the trait development technology used in academia. Beta Bugs’ trait development programme starts with breeding black soldier flies, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, for the aquaculture feed market, in partnership with one of the largest aquaculture feed companies in the UK. Beyond protein, insects could be used to break down industrial waste like lignocellulose or plastics, as a source for biofuel, and to engineer ecosystems.