Paris-based Ynsect has raised a second round of $15.2 million to expand its insect breeding technology that it hopes will create a more sustainable global food system.
That is the high-minded description of what Ynsect does. Here is the yucky version: The company grows farmed mealworm larvae that it process to create high-protein feed for pets, livestock, and fish. While that is the focus today, the company is optimistic that down the road, it can make people food, too.
The four cofounders say they were moved to search for a solution to reinvent how and where food is obtained because the current global food supply chains are having a huge impact on the environment.
“The four of us started the company because we wanted to improve a global food system that is unsustainable and leading to a host of undesired impacts, including growing greenhouse gas emissions, the collapse in oceanic biodiversity and anxieties over food safety and security,” said cofounder Antoine Hubert in a statement.
The latest round brings the company’s fundraising total to $37 million. The round was led by Future Positive Capital and Bpifrance Ecotechnologies. Previous investors also chipped in, including Emertec, Demeter, VisVires, New Protein Capital, and Business Angels.
In developing their system, the company uses a mixture of robotics and artificial intelligence to efficiently grow the worms. The founders decided to focus on feed for animals first because animal feed is often highly processed, or contains large amounts of fish, which promotes over-fishing. The company argues that animals in the wild would naturally consume more insects, and their product is helping bring a more natural balance to their diets in a way that is also more environmentally friendly.
The company describes its main product, “Tenebrio molitor protein” or “TMP” as “a de-fatted protein meal made of farmed mealworm larvae.” With the latest investment, the company plans a big expansion of its research center and will develop plans for a massive facility to produce large quantities of TMP.
Ynsect notes that its longer-term plans include “human nutrition markets.”