FRANCE – Ynsect, French agri-tech innovator specializing in insect protein has received US$22.6 million (€20 million) worth of funding backed by the European Commission and the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU).

The funding will support a project called FARMYNG, which looks to build industry’s first fully automated insect protein plant.

Based in Amiens, northern France, FARMYN will produce meal worms called Tenebrio Molitor on an industrial scale, which can be used as premium proteins for animal feed and fertilizers.

The project is expected to have a huge impact on Northern France and Europe over the next decade, with the potential to ramp up production to more than 200,000 tons of premium protein with revenues of approximately €1 billion (US$1.13 billion).

“The FARMYNG project devised and piloted by Ÿnsect will lay the foundations for a new protein supply chain to meet the world’s immense food challenge,” said CEO and agronomist Antoine Hubert.

“Europe is demonstrating its global leadership in alternative protein sources and is home to trailblazers throughout the value chain.”

Promoting a circular economy

The facility, set to open in 2021 is expected to around 1,200 direct and indirect jobs, also bringing environmental benefits.

The entire production system is modelled on a circular economy with zero-waste.

Ynsect technology will focus on Molitor worms, whose qualities perfectly place it to promote a circular economy.

The mealworm consumes all sorts of organic matter, even low-grade materials, grows quickly and require less space, less earth and less water than other animal protein sources.

They also give off less ammonia and fewer greenhouses gases than other premium animal proteins.

“For BBI JU, funding the first industrial biorefinery able to turn insects into premium, high-value proteins for animal feed and fertilizers was a strategic priority,” said Philippe Mengal, Executive Director of BBI JU.

“One of our key goals is to de-risk investments like this that have a significant socioeconomic impact.

“The flagship FARMYNG project will also further BBI JU’s strategic aim of reducing the EU’s reliance on massive protein imports.”

Earlier this year, Ynsect raised US$125 million (€110m) in Series C round led by Astanor Ventures to cement its leadership in the global alternative protein space