SINGAPORE-BASED insect technology startup Protenga has raised US$1.6 million in seed funding from UK agritech firm Roslin Technologies, and the investment arm of Enterprise Singapore (ESG), SEEDS Capital.
The investment opens the door to circular food system innovations that will provide "healthy and sustainable" insect protein for the livestock, aquaculture and pet food markets, according to Protenga. "Currently, livestock, aquaculture and pets are mainly fed with unsustainable fishmeal and cash crops like corn and soy. Insects offer a natural alternative that requires less land, water and food compared to other feed ingredients," the company said.
The startup farms black soldier fly larvae as an ingredient in animal feed and pet food, and will work with Roslin Technologies to identify "new, high-efficiency" genetic strains of the insect, it said.
Protenga added that it is ramping up production of its insect-based products, conducting genetic research, and taking its Smart Insect Farm model, which transforms agricultural and food waste into valuable products, to waste owners around Asia.
To support these activities, the startup is hiring for biology, engineering, operations, as well as research and development roles. These positions will be based out of its breeding and farming facility in Senai, Johor.
Glen Illing, chief executive officer of Roslin Technologies, said: "This investment is the start of our journey into the insect protein and nutrition market. Protenga has the right technologies, capabilities and culture to succeed in providing new sustainable production and waste bioconversion practices using black soldier fly.
"We are also excited about applying enhanced breeding technologies to develop improved insect lines with Protenga from a new genetic nucleus facility currently being built near Edinburgh."
Geoffrey Yeo, general manager of SEEDS Capital, said the investment builds on its existing focus in agrifood technologies and further develops the alternative protein ecosystem in Singapore.
Protenga previously won S$50,000 in grants at trade event Indoor Ag-Con Asia 2018, which was supported by ESG.
The Business Times reported in April last year that ESG has named urban farming, aquaculture and alternative proteins as key growth segments in agrifood technology, a sector where Singapore is making a grand push.