The 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. (185.8m2)
Described as the first of its kind in the UK, the lab will expand the scope and scale of Fera’s current insect services to ‘twin’ the process of insect bioconversion at factory production scale.
Andrew Swift, chief executive at Fera Science, said the launch of the specialist insect lab was an important step in the delivery of ‘expert support’ from the group to help the food production industry to respond to the opportunities the technology presented.
Pressure on the industry
“The rising pressure to meet consumption for the growing population globally estimates that more than 250m metric tonnes of additional protein will be needed per year in the decades ahead,” he added. “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.”
Fera will use the lab to help 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.
Opportunities for follaboration
The laboratory will also enable collaborations with universities, startups, insect farms and associated national and international regulatory authorities, including the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Food Standards Agency.
Tamara Finkelstein, permanent secretary at Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 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.”