By Monika Ghosh and Sharon Lewis This article is the last of a four-part Tech’s Year in Review series reviewing developments across industries in 2020. It discusses the world of healthtech and biotech, foodtech and agritech, and sustainability. This article is the last of a four-part [...]
Investment marks second deal for Trendlines Agrifood Fund
Singaporean biotech startup Insectta has secured seed funding of an undisclosed amount from Israel-based medical and agritech investor and incubator Trendlines Group’s Trendlines Agrifood Fund, according to a statement released on Monday.
Initially conceptualized as an insect farm producing alternative proteins for animal feed, the 2017 founded startup focuses on the extraction of biomaterials from insects to be used across industries such as agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and electronics.
“Trendlines’ focus on innovative, technology-driven solutions is exactly what we are looking for in a strategic partner. With their help, we aim to increase the value and diversify the products attained from food waste valorization,” Co-Founder of Insectta Chua Kai-Ning said in the statement.
The startup emphasizes that it is Singapore’s first urban insect farm to rear the black soldier fly, which is commonly used to compost waste or convert into animal feed. Insectta also converts food waste into valuable biomaterials such as chitosan, organic semiconductors, and proteins and probiotics in animal feed.
Insectta’s flagship technology helps to produce the semi-synthetic material chitosan sustainably and cost-effectively, the statement noted. Chitosan’s physical and chemical properties make it suitable for biotech applications such as in biomedical engineering, food, and biodegradable plastics.
While chitosan is mostly extracted from crustaceans using chemicals, Insectta focuses on obtaining the ingredient from insects without harsh chemicals. The startup uses byproducts from insect farms as raw materials for extraction, the statement added.
It also said that Insectta’s biorefinery process helps to product materials including chitosan that are “estimated to triple the larvae’s final product value”.
In addition to biomaterials, Insectta also provides black soldier fly products, such as larvae or frass, which support sustainable composting, fertilizer, and animal feed solutions.
Earlier last year, Insectta was one of five social impact startups to be recognized by the Lotus-NUS Fund, a collaboration between Lotus Life Foundation and NUS Enterprise for National University of Singapore (NUS)-affiliated social impact startups. The startup received a grant of SGD 25,000 (about US$17,000) as seed funding.
“Insectta brings a unique technology for producing high-value materials from the insect industry’s waste. Our investment represents the fund’s commitment to investing in technologies developed and implemented in Singapore; and addressing food and other issues in a sustainable way, using innovative knowledge and a team with proven capabilities,” Trendlines Agrifood Fund CEO Nitza Kardish noted in the statement.
She added that the startup will move into the Fund’s new office, and that their first products are expected to be retailing commercially by the time it completes its first year of operation.
The investment in Insectta is the Fund’s second investment so far, after it joined BASF Venture Capital, Fortissimo Capital and Roquette in backing Israel-based seed breeding startup Equinom’s $10 million financing round in February this year. The Fund contributed $1.6 million of the total.
The Group participated with a slew of other investors in Israel-based artificial intelligence crop protection company AgroScout’s $3 million financing round.