An agritech startup in Germany is using insects as a sustainable option for livestock feed. The aptly named FarmInsect has raised a €8 million Series A funding round which will see the commercial scale-up of the company and further development of its technology.
The round was led by Sandwater alongside Bayern Kapital’s growth fund, the Minderoo Foundation’s Strategic Impact Fund, and the European Innovation Council Fund. Also participating in the round were existing investors HTGF and UnternehmerTUM Funding for Innovators.
Why insects you might ask, well, using insects for a protein-rich diet for livestock is more sustainable than the production of fishmeal and soy – fishmeal requires energy-intensive processing and also depletes wild fish stocks, while the cultivation of soybeans can often involve land clearing and deforestation.
FarmInsect has developed an end-to-end solution whereby farmers can build their own modular insect farms on their own farms. With weekly shipments of Black Soldier Fly seed larvae, which are then fattened on site with waste materials, such as peels or harvest residues, it produces a high-quality, protein-rich feed. In just one week the larvae will grow over 250x their body weight.
Founded in 2020, the startup's process is monitored by a proprietary software platform and compost produced as a by-product can be sold as high-quality fertiliser or used for biogas production. FarmInsect claims its solution can help farmers to reach feed cost savings of up to 30 percent.
"We’ve recognised the commercial and environmental potential of insects for a long time. But we struggle with the existing business model, which involves substantial capital investment and has proven difficult to scale. We were missing a commercially available, low-capex solution capable of driving meaningful volumes, and FarmInsect offers just that. We strongly believe in the founders’ ability to scale FarmInsect and accelerate," says Morten E. Iversen, Partner at Sandwater.
Lead image: Founders of FarmInsect (from left to right) Thomas Kuehn and Wolfgang Westermeier in their insect farm, holding a box with larvae of the Black Soldier Fly ready to be used as feed. Photo: Uncredited.