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Super fly guys: Roslin genetics expertise will improve insect breeding

The black soldier fly (BSF) is cultivated for its larvae, which can be used as a protein source in animal feed and for pets. Photo: National Arboretum, Washington DC.
The black soldier fly (BSF) is cultivated for its larvae, which can be used as a protein source in animal feed and for pets. Photo: National Arboretum, Washington DC.

A genetic nucleus facility for the enhanced breeding of black soldier fly (BSF) is to be built by agricultural technology company, Roslin Technologies Ltd, on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

The company announced yesterday that it has invested in Singapore-based BSF farmer Protenga and that the companies will jointly develop improved insect lines for the global market.

Insect meal is poised to play an increasingly significant role in providing protein for aquafeed, with several players currently scaling up to offer the tonnage the market requires and feed manufacturers such as Skretting and BioMar incorporating it in some formulations.

Roslin Technologies is a joint venture between University of Edinburgh and two investment and business development partners and works closely with academics at the Roslin Institute and Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies to develop novel AgriTech products. It is based at Edinburgh University’s Easter Bush Campus in the Midlothian Science Zone.

Glen Illing:
Glen Illing: "Protenga has the right technologies, capabilities and culture."

Enhanced breeding

“This investment is the start of our journey into the insect protein and nutrition market,” said Glen Illing, chief executive of Roslin Technologies.

“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 from a new genetic nucleus facility to be built soon near Edinburgh. Protenga is at the cutting edge of sustainable protein production and is the next important building block in our portfolio of agtech ventures.”

Enormous opportunities

Protenga chief executive Leo Wein said production and bioconversion opportunities using the black soldier fly platform were enormous and working with Roslin Technologies provided the perfect opportunity to expand the company’s capabilities.

Roslin Technologies’ investment has been supported with co-funding from SEEDS Capital, the investment arm of Enterprise Singapore.

SEEDS Capital general manager Geoffrey Yeo said: “Protenga’s proprietary solutions in black soldier fly production and waste bioconversion enables the company to have a differentiated and scalable business model in the insect protein space, and addresses the growing gap in the demand and supply of animal feed.

“The investment in Protenga builds on our existing focus in agrifood technologies and further develops the alternative protein ecosystem in Singapore.”