Paris-based Ÿnsect wins €20 million in backing from the EU to build the first fully automated insect-based protein plant

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Paris-based Ÿnsect aims to become the world leader in insect-based protein production for animal and fish feed. In February, Ÿnsect raised a €110 million Series C round – the largest funding round to date in an agtech startup outside of the US. The startup promises to present a more sustainable alternative to protein sources such as soy, which takes up large amounts of land, soil, and water resources to produce.

Today, Ÿnsect is officially launching the first fully-automated industrial facility to produce premium insect protein. The project, called FARMYNG is based in the city of Amiens in northern France, and receiving €20 million in investment from the European Commission and the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU). Ÿnsect is the first French company to win an EU-backed project on such a scale.

“We are very proud. We’d like to thank all our partners for their commitment and the European Commission and BBI JU for putting their faith in us,” said Antoine Hubert, CEO and founder of Ÿnsect. “Europe is demonstrating its global leadership in alternative protein sources and is home to trailblazers throughout the value chain.”

FARMYNG will produce insects called Tenebrio Molitor on an industrial scale, which can be used as premium proteins for animal feed and fertilizers. This will be the first time that bio-based proteins are produced on an industrial scale, to meet ever-increasing global demand.

The project will have a huge impact on Northern France and Europe over the next 10 years, with the potential to ramp up production to over 200,000 tonnes of premium protein with expected revenues of around €1 billion and the creation of 1,200 direct and indirect jobs. In addition, the plant will benefit the environment by avoiding the need to reduce wild fish stacks by 800,000 tonnes.

The Molitor larva comprises more than 70% protein and is a natural source of nutrients for a wide array of animals, including fish, poultry, pigs, dogs and cats. It is also the insect species best suited to being farmed on an industrial scale, with huge potential as an alternative premium protein source due to the unparalleled nutritional and health benefits it offers to both plants and animals.

These qualities make the Molitor perfectly placed to promote a circular economy. The mealworm consumes all sorts of organic matter, even low-grade materials. It grows quickly and requires less space, less earth and less water than other animal protein sources. It also gives off less ammonia and fewer greenhouses gases than other premium animal proteins. The entire production system is modelled on a circular economy with zero-waste.

The Amiens site is due to open in 2021, representing one of the first Industry 4.0 factories on the continent. It is both fully automated and uses vertical farming techniques to save both energy and space. The site also features many data sensors enabling Ÿnsect teams to develop predictive models to track insect productivity and growth.