Science and Technology Facilities Council
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Using insects to convert food waste into sustainable feed for animals

The UK’s first large-scale farm that will use insects to convert food waste into sustainable feed for farmed animals has moved a step closer, thanks to a £10 million Government funding boost.

By 2050, our global population is set to exceed 9 billion, bringing with it an anticipated 70% increase in global demand for meat and fish. As a result, the growing demand for soya-based farm feed is driving mass deforestation at an alarming rate, and marine populations have halved in the last 4 decades due to wide spread overfishing.

The £10 million funding is part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, start-up company Entocycle is leading a collaboration that will build the UK’s first industrial-scale insect farm.

Here it will use black soldier flies to convert upcycled food waste from farms and factories into a sustainable, organic insect-based protein feed, as an alternative to soya, for farmed animals, namely pigs, chicken and fish.

In short, the company is using food waste to create insect protein to feed the animals that we eat, while reducing carbon dioxide emissions and deforestation.

Space tech helps feed the world sustainably

Following its formation in 2017, Entocycle spent time developing its technology as part of the European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre United Kingdom (ESA BIC UK), which is managed and partly funded by STFC in collaboration with:

  • ESA Space Solutions
  • University of Leicester
  • UK Space Agency.  

Here the company acquired the expertise to develop a network of cutting edge sensors, originally designed for use in space, to monitor and optimise the black soldier fly lifecycle.

They combined this with big data analysis to develop their proprietary technology to mass-rear flies, scalable for industrial use. Furthermore, access to STFC’s RAL space expertise enabled it to move past the prototype stage, which it would not have had the ability to do as a small team at the time.

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