Feeding the world sustainably – with Black Soldier flies and space technology

14 August 2017

Keiran Whitaker and the Entocycle team

Keiran Whitaker and the Entocycle team.
(Credit: Entocycle)

The global population is set to exceed 9 billion by 2050, bringing with it an anticipated 70% increase in global demand for meat and fish. Marine populations have halved in the last 4 decades due to wide spread overfishing and the growing demand for soya-based farm feed is driving mass deforestation at an alarming rate.

Now, pioneering start-up company, Entocycle, has developed the most advanced system yet to provide a sustainable alternative to much of the protein feed given to farmed pigs, chickens and fish – by upcycling food waste from farms and factories into protein, using Black Soldier Flies. They have developed the technology to mass rear the flies, scalable for industrial use, to convert waste into a sustainable protein feed for farmed animals. The optimised bioconversion process achieves in 6 days what nature can take 6 months to achieve.

At the European Space Agency’s Business Incubation Centre in Oxfordshire (ESA BIC Harwell), which is managed and co-funded by STFC, Entocycle have acquired the expertise to develop a network of innovative sensors to monitor and optimise the Black Soldier Fly lifecycle. They are combining this with big data analysis to further develop their proprietary technology to mass rear Black Soldier flies, scalable for industrial use across the world.

Entocycle Pitch

Keiran Whitaker, founder at Entocycle explains: “One-third of all food produced globally, worth almost £800 billion, gets lost or wasted, but the technology to use it to produce an organic source of protein has not existed until now. For Entocycle, joining the ESA BIC Harwell has meant that we have been able accelerate and grow rapidly whilst surrounded by other fast paced start-ups. Entocycle has the real potential to make a dramatic impact on global food security, farming economics, recycling organic waste and helping environmental conservation.”

Sue O’Hare, Operations Manager at the ESA BIC Harwell said: “Entocycle is a fantastic example of how space and technology can be applied to address one of the most important global challenges we currently face – how to feed the world without harming our planet. Turning a world-changing idea like this into a viable commercial reality is a massive challenge and I’m thrilled that the ESA BIC Harwell is providing the right environment and support to do this.”

Located within the well-established space cluster at the Harwell Campus, the ESA BIC Harwell sits alongside STFC’s RAL Space, the Satellite Applications Catapult and the brand new National Satellite Test Facility. It is also one of a wider European network of 16 successful ESA BICs, and part of ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme. It provides 10 companies a year with an impressive, carefully designed support package lasting between one and two years that enables them to harness space-related intellectual property, technologies and expertise through the provision of £41,500 grant funding, access to STFC’s world-class research facilities and skills, and dedicated business support.

Get involved with the ESA BIC Harwell

Further information and advice about getting involved with the ESA BIC Harwell, and how it could benefit your company, can be found at the ESA BIC Harwell website. Calls for proposals to join the ESA BIC Harwell take place throughout the year, the next deadline for applications closing on 27 October 2017.

Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000