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Entomics startup to benefit from Innovate UK funding

Entomics Biosystems, a startup that has been supported by the Cambridge Judge Entrepreneurship Centre’s Accelerate Cambridge programme, announced that it is part of a research collaboration awarded almost £900,000 by Innovate UK to investigate the effectiveness of insect-derived feeds for farmed salmon.

Alongside two experienced partners – the University of Stirling and the University of Reading – Cambridge-based Entomics will conduct industrial research to improve and optimise their existing bioprocessing platform.

There is increasing concern around the sustainability of the salmon aquaculture feed supply chain, with a growing industry trend of moving away from fishmeal, which is four times as expensive as plant-based proteins like soy. Insect meal has been demonstrated to be a promising nutritional alternative to fishmeal, yet there are concerns that it lacks some of the added functional benefits naturally found in fishmeal.

Entomics’s solution is to introduce functional insect-derived protein feeds to the UK aquaculture market, using a novel insect post-processing technology. The timing for this initiative is ideal, given that insects for aquaculture feed only became legal in the UK this July, and the market is expected to grow rapidly.

In addition to this latest grant funding, Entomics has been working on several other projects that are being supported by Innovate UK, the EU Horizon 2020 SME Instrument scheme, EIT Food KIC and the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative.

Matt McLaren, Cambridge MBA 2014 alum

Matt McLaren

Matt McLaren Cambridge MBA alumnus 2014 and co-founder of Entomics said: “Overall, this funding will expedite and de-risk Entomics’s technology development, bringing the company closer to commercial readiness whilst consolidating Entomics’s position as a biotechnology leader in the growing insect industry.”

Entomics develops targeted value-added engineering and biological tools for optimising the insect-based bioconversion of low value waste feedstocks – such as food waste and manure – into high value agricultural products like animal feed. The company comprises four recent University of Cambridge graduates with backgrounds in biochemistry, biology, engineering and business.

Matt commented:

We’ve been extremely lucky to have the support of Cambridge Judge Business School throughout our journey. The mentorship and coaching provided by the Accelerate Cambridge programme in particular has been vital to getting our business to its current stage, and the credibility of the Cambridge brand has allowed us to engage with some great academic and commercial partners.