Beta Hatch develops insect-rearing technology that converts organic waste directly into high-value proteins, oils and nutrients for poultry and aquaculture.
The funding was co-led by Cavallo Ventures, Wilbur-Ellis’ venture capital arm, and early-stage venture firm Innova Memphis. The round also included investments from Klein Private Equity Investment and Brighton Jones Investment Partners.
“Insects have the potential to be the world’s most sustainable protein,” said Virginia Emery, founder and CEO of Beta Hatch. “This new funding allows us to break ground on the construction of our sustainable flagship facility, so that we can scale up production commercially to meet existing demand of thousands of tons, and to continue our technology development to further bring down costs and increase efficiencies.”
The new flagship facility in Cashmere, Washington, will be the largest mealworm production facility for animal feed in North America, with the capacity to produce a ton of insect protein per day. Scheduled to be operational in early 2021, the facility will be partially powered by waste heat from a neighbouring data centre to reduce electrical needs.
“A range of markets will benefit from access to a new source of healthy, sustainable alternative feed ingredients,” said Cavallo Ventures’ managing director Son Vo. “This financing supports an essential next step toward commercialization, which will enable Beta Hatch to meet these markets’ needs while offering an innovative way to produce feed for our food, starting with aquaculture.”
“Whether for aquaculture, poultry or even for use in the domestic pet marketplace, we clearly see the opportunity posed by Beta Hatch in addressing the need for more sustainable sources of feed protein,” said Dean Didato, partner at Innova Memphis. “The Beta Hatch team has engineered several innovative solutions to increase insect growth and mechanical processing efficiencies that provide a competitive edge in the space. In addition, with consumer desires to know more about the origin of one’s food and its rearing, harvesting and processing, Innova fully believes that these trends will drive further market adoption of insect protein.”
Beyond the funding, Beta Hatch’s contributions to the scientific community continue to grow as the company recently completed the first published assembly of the yellow mealworm genome. The genome will be published as part of an open source article in the Journal of Insects as Food and Feed in summer 2020 and will serve as an important resource for the scientific community in furthering research on the mealworm and other commercially relevant insect species.