Beta Bugs Secures £1.72M to Scale Up
Sustainable Insect Farming
Edinburgh, Scotland (Tuesday 17thOctober 2023)
Scottish insect genetics business Beta Bugs Limited has secured £1.72M investment 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.
The funding round was led by The TRICAPITAL Syndicate LLP, with participation from SIS Ventures, Scottish Enterprise, Beeches Group, Climate.vc, together with existing shareholders in the business and InnovateUK.
Based in Edinburgh, Beta Bugs has developed the UK’s first comprehensive selective breeding programme and egg production site for the Black Soldier Fly, which 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. With the global population forecast to reach 9.7bn by 2050¹, livestock farming will require an additional 539m hectares of habitat using current conventional methods – equating to an area 44x the size of Scotland² – to produce the necessary protein to feed this growing population.
Although these insects have been farmed commercially for the past decade, Black Soldier Fly have not, until now, been genetically improved for large-scale production. By improving Black Soldier Fly genetic performance and supplying it at commercially meaningful scales, 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.
Established in 2017 by CEO and Founder Thomas Farrugia, Beta Bugs is based in the Easter Bush Campus, Scotland – a centre of excellence for animal science and home to the Roslin Institute, renowned centre for animal genetics. The business currently employs a team of 12 and will be looking to recruit another 4 full-time commercial and technical staff over the coming months. As part of its growth plans, Beta Bugs has also appointed Chris Richards as Non-Executive Chair. Chris is a recognised veteran of the international agribusiness industry with broad experience of 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. Completing this investment will allow us to expand production capacity, drive to profitability over the coming 18-24 months and further strengthen our market leadership position in the strategically important insect farming industry.”
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.”
- United Nations, The World Population Prospects 2019
- Zero Waste Scotland, The Future of Food 2020
About TRICAPITAL Angel Investors
The TRICAPITAL Syndicate LLP is a leading Scottish angel syndicate of like-minded entrepreneurs, CEOs and business leaders who have founded, funded and built successful companies. TRICAPITAL works in partnership with Scottish Enterprise by providing early and mid-stage Scottish companies with investment and expertise from start-up through to Series A and beyond.
About Scottish Enterprise
Scottish Enterprise (SE) is Scotland’s national economic development agency and a non-departmental public body of the Scottish Government. It supports businesses to innovate and scale to transform the Scottish economy by focusing on new market opportunities through targeted investment, innovation and internationalisation.
Follow on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/company/scottish-enterprise/
About SIS Ventures
SIS Ventures, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Social Investment Scotland (SIS), provides the tools and mission-aligned investment required to help early-stage businesses grow and deliver impact at scale. In return for investment, SIS Ventures seeks a mission lock – where the social and/or environmental mission of the organisation is locked into the Articles of Association and cannot be changed without consent. Launched in 2018 and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, SIS Ventures has already raised and deployed £5.6 million among 14 early-stage impact-led businesses. SIS Ventures is a signatory to the Operating Principles of Impact Management which provide a global framework for investors to ensure that impact considerations are integrated throughout an investment lifecycle. Targets for investment include businesses which are committed to progressing the diversity and inclusion agenda and those whose products or services progress the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. For more information about SIS Ventures, visit www.sisventures.com
About Climate VC
Climate VC invests in moonshot climate technology companies with high impact potential and higher perceived risk relative to the market. We partner with start-ups through their first major milestones and into their next funding round, serving as their validation capital. In order to meet our impact investment criteria, each company must have a path towards 10Mt of CO2e emissions reduction annually for a period of 10 years.