Divaks secures US$3M in seed funding round to develop insect-derived ingredients for food and feed

LITHUANIA—Divaks, a Lithuanian food-tech startup has raised US$3 million in a second round of seed funding s it looks to develop its insect-derived ingredients for food applications.

Divaks is creating a range of sustainable, traceable ingredients from the yellow mealworm (Tenebrio monitor).

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The insect is said to provide a complete protein source, containing all essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals, and can be used in applications across meat alternatives, sports nutrition, snacks and confectionery.

“Yellow mealworm is an exceptional protein source, combining the nutritional quality of beef with the sustainability credentials of many plant-based alternatives,” said Kęstutis Lipnickas, Divaks’ cofounder and CEO.

“Our focus from day one has been on using these insects to create added value ingredients, solutions, and specialties for the food industry,” said Lipnickas.

The biggest plus, though, is environmental, as insect farming generates substantially lower greenhouse gas emissions and requires less land and water.

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Divaks takes this further, by using low-value sidestreams from local food producers and the agri-industry to create products for the pet industry.

The company plans to use the investment to support the launch of its pilot manufacturing facility, secure Novel Food authorisation with the European Commission, and carry out further research and development in the field.

The company recently signed a Novel Food Dossier (NFD) licensing agreement with insect pioneers Protix, which covers whole dried mealworms and whole mealworm powder.

Divaks has begun preparing additional NFDs for a range of specialist ingredients, including defatted insect protein and soluble insect protein concentrate.

The company works closely with Lithuanian universities and academic institutions to develop its ingredients and has already been involved in initial rearing and breeding trials.

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Its inhouse team will carry out further R&D with academic institutions – specifically to identify the most efficient rearing and breeding conditions, along with yellow mealworm processing and premium ingredient creation.

Divaks is now seeking to raise up to US$ 51 million through its Series A funding round, which is planned to close in Q1/Q2 2023.

With the ambition of opening a fully automated, vertically integrated insect rearing and processing facility by mid-2024, the company has already acquired a land plot and is working with one of the leading turn-key solution providers on plant design.

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