Fera Science Ltd (“Fera”), a pioneer in expert agri-food and environmental science services, is delighted to announce the opening of its specialist insect laboratory today at its Bioscience Campus (YBC) location in York, UK. The £1m expansion involved converting a former storage unit on site into a purpose-built insect research unit, increasing Fera’s presence at YBC by over 2,000 sq. ft.
This expert research and development (R&D) facility will support the rapid growth of insect bioconversion to upcycle biomass residues into valorised products. Fera’s R&D services will help a variety of industries to evaluate the feasibility and scale up processes by which they can best adopt the technology. Fera has led insect bioconversion R&D in the UK and EU for the past 10 years. The laboratory, which is the first of its kind in the UK and one of the first in Europe, enables Fera to help meet the needs of global clients from across the food industry by expanding the scope and scale of its current insect services to ‘twin’ the process of insect bioconversion at factory production scale.
Insect bioconversion is the process of feeding insect biomass residue to create valorised products, such as high quality proteins and oils, packaging materials or soil nutrients. It is a circular economic practice that reduces waste, provides alternative – sustainably sourced - ingredients for animal feed. Most of Fera’s work has focused on developing this application with black soldier fly larvae for a multitude of reasons which lend themselves to an efficient production process and yielding product which is protein rich, contains a good balance of essential amino acids, minerals and fats - highly suitable for feeding to monogastric animals (such as poultry, pigs and fish).
Fera is able to advise its clients on the cost reductions as well as optimising the circular economy benefits of insect bioconversion in line with net carbon zero objectives and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs). The laboratory will also enable collaborations with universities, start-ups, insect farms and associated national and international regulatory authorities, including the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Food Standards Agency.
Dr Andrew Swift, Chief Executive Officer at Fera Science said:
“Today’s launch of our specialist insect laboratory is an important step in the delivery of expert support from Fera to help the food production industry and its stakeholders, in both the commercial and public sector, to respond to the opportunity this technology presents."
“The rising pressure to meet consumption for the growing population globally estimates that more than 250 million metric tonnes of additional protein will be needed per year in the decades ahead. This puts immense pressure on our current animal feed protein sources such as soy and fishmeal which are derived from unsustainable sources. Insect bioconversion presents one route to provide sustainably sourced protein into the food chain to help overcome this challenge. Under a circular economy, this technology can reduce biomass waste through consumption and conversion into high quality protein for animal feed as well as other bi-products of high value to food production."
Tamara Finkelstein, Permanent Secretary at Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said:
“I am delighted to see Fera opening this state-of-the-art insect research laboratory. This is a critical time for innovation in biotechnology and the insect unit has the potential to reduce our impact on the environment, making progress towards a more circular economy.
“The breadth of national and international partners involved will help ensure its success and demonstrates Fera’s international reputation for taking scientific innovation to new markets.”
Notes to Editors:
From 2018-2020, Fera chaired the UK Task & Finish Group on Insect Biomass Conversion representing key stakeholders across the insect biomass value chain. The opening of the insect laboratory is the next pivotal step in this journey.
Fera Science has plans to bring further innovative technology to the site and the region under the BioYorkshire initiative. Working alongside the University of York and Askham Bryan College, proposals include establishing two new facilities including the research cube, a highly automated control environment supporting Fera’s work into plant and insect farming research, as well as a packaging hub.
More information on the UK Task & Finish Group on Insect Biomass Conversion can be found: here
Powerscourt - Genevieve Ryan
Tel: +44(0)79 030 88779
Fera is a national and international centre of excellence for interdisciplinary investigation and problem solving across plant and bee health, crop protection, sustainable agriculture, food and feed quality and chemical safety in the environment. We create and deliver integrated, innovative and expert research services and products for our partners in crop protection, chemical and animal health companies, as well as food producers and growers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers.
We also support and work closely with governments, academia and leading research organisations. For further information please visit: https://www.fera.co.uk
Fera's Insect Services: https://www.fera.co.uk/insect-bioconversion-reforming-the-food-system