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Beta Hatch to break ground on largest mealworm facility

TAGS: Business
Series A1 funding round closes for continued innovation of company's insect technology for animal feed.

Beta Hatch, a company industrializing the production of insects as a sustainable protein for animal feed, announced May 21 the close of its Series A1 funding.

Co-led by Cavallo Ventures, the venture capital arm of Wilbur-Ellis, and early-stage venture firm Innova Memphis, the round also included investments from Klein Private Equity Investment and Brighton Jones Investment Partners, Beta Hatch said in an announcement.

Beta Hatch develops insect-rearing technology that converts organic waste directly into high-value proteins, oils and nutrients for poultry and aquaculture, enabling insects to cost-effectively meet the global scale of demand for plant and animal nutrients.

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“Insects have the potential to be the world’s most sustainable protein,” Beta Hatch founder and chief executive officer Virginia Emery said. “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, Wash., 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 neighboring data center to reduce electrical needs, the company said.

“A range of markets will benefit from access to a new source of healthy, sustainable alternative feed ingredients,” Cavallo Ventures managing director Son Vo said. “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.”

Innova Memphis partner Dean Didato added, “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. 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 & Feed in Summer 2020 and will serve as a resource for the scientific community in furthering research on the mealworm and other commercially relevant insect species, Beta Hatch noted.

Founded in 2015, Beta Hatch is pioneering the insect farming industry through an innovative fusion of engineering and entomology. With a combination of trade-secret processes, patent-pending equipment and superior genetic stock, Beta Hatch is developing the tools needed to grow insects on an industrial scale to disrupt plant and animal nutrition.

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