The insect research unit has been converted from a former storage unit on site, increasing the site space by more than two thousand square feet.
As the site launched, Tamara Finkelstein, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, stated: “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 will help ensure its success and demonstrate Fera’s international reputation for taking scientific innovation to new markets.”
“Fera Science Ltd has opened a one-million-pound specialist insect laboratory at its York Bioscience Campus.“
The facility will upcycle biomass residues into valorised products and aid in insect bioconversion expansion. Fera will instruct industries on the possibility and scale-up procedures by which they can best adopt the technology.
Valorised products are created as a result of insect bioconversions; these products include soil nutrients, packaging materials or oils. Most of Fera’s work has focused on evolving this application with black soldier fly larvae, suitable for feeding monogastric animals, including fish, pigs and poultry.
The lab will also enable collaborations with insect farms, start-ups, universities and associated authorities, such as the Food Standards Agency and Defra.
Dr Andrew Swift, CEO, stated: “The rising pressure to meet consumption for the growing population globally estimates that more than two hundred and fifty million metric tonnes of additional protein will be needed per year in the decades ahead. 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.”