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BugBox: Mass Rearing & Production Technology to Produce Protein Powder & Other Sub-Products from Edible Insects

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BUGBOX (BugBox: Mass Rearing & Production Technology to Produce Protein Powder & Other Sub-Products from Edible Insects)

Reporting period: 2019-12-01 to 2020-05-31

BugBox OÜ was founded in 2015 with the mission to provide a scalable fully automated mass rearing and production technology for the edible insect industry. The rapidly rising population has caused an increasing demand for meat and dairy products resulting in over-consumption and increasing need for land, water and energy resources. Rearing insects has a much smaller ecological footprint than common farming, making it a more efficient and environmentally sustainable way of producing protein. The world is facing significant global issues which sets limits to environmental sustainability. Starving, over-consumption of energy and water resources as well as rapidly rising population causing increasing demand for meat and dairy products are only a few of many problems. By 2050 the world’s population is estimated to reach 9.6 billion compared to the 7.7 billion today. Already about one third of all soils are degraded and the global amount of productive land per person in 2050 could be only one fourth of the level in 1960. The production of animal protein requires large amounts of land, water and energy resources as well as causes pollution and harm on the environment. The resources must be used more effectively to ensure environmental sustainability.
The first alternative is plant-based products which produce fewer greenhouse gases but still require remarkable amounts of land and water. BugBox has carried out thorough research and concluded that the alternative source that possesses an adequate quantity of 9 essential amino acids is insect-based protein. The ecological footprint of insect-based food is significantly lower than animal-based food production. Even more, insect-based food is richer in protein, calcium and iron and unlike meat production, the process of producing proteins from edible insects is ethical, as it is scientifically proven that insects lack the nerve sensors and therefore do not feel pain.

Currently there are only manual methods used for rearing insects, which are not capable to rear and produce the insectbased proteins cost-efficiently, in large-scale and high quality. Unlike livestock and agricultural production systems, functioning insect farms have not yet been fully automated. This means that manual labour is required for completion of feeding, collection, cleaning and other relevant tasks. Dependence on manual labour causes a high price of farm-reared insects. Also, there might occur human errors, inaccuracy and parasitic spread due to manual work.

BugBox is developing a fully automatic technology which will be able to produce insects in larger amounts and more cost-efficiently than today’s manual method. The key components of BugBox’s technology are: fully automated mass rearing reactor, sensors and IT-platform. The mass rearing reactor can fully automatically control: watering and feeding, cleaning, lights, temperature and moisture system, eggs laying and hatchery system, extinction of insects and transport to production. BugBox’s technology will be over 200x more productive and over 10x more affordable than current manual farms. Target users of BugBox technology are: 1) farmers of edible insects; 2) producers of protein powders, oils and other subproducts; 3) food, snack and beverage producers.
BugBox has carried out intensive research in entomology field and has currently a prototype of a rearing reactor which still needs to be tested and demonstrated in relevant environment (with different insect species, in different geographical locations and conditions). The objective of Phase 1 project was to:
1) Assess the technical feasibility of BugBox by determining a standardised insects mass rearing process and demonstrating a scalable mass rearing reactor in different environmental conditions with multiple insect species;
2) Assess the commercial feasibility by improving the IP and regulatory compliance strategy and building market traction.
In specific, the current project consisted of four sub-objectives: 1) validate market; 2) develop a standardised insect rearing process; 3) demonstrate the insect reactor; 4) carry out IP and regulatory compliance analysis; and 5) detail and specify the business and action plan.

In general, the Horizon 2020 Phase 1 project accomplished the targeted objectives as we:
• have created a sales pipeline and contacted with potential clients and partners,
• detailed the pricing model and financial forecast,
• gathered input from customers for further development activities,
• determined insects’ standardised rearing process;
• tested and planned development activities for insect reactor,
• determined the IPR protection strategy,
• updated our privacy policy to be fully in compliance with GDPR,
• formulated terms and conditions of the service,
• updated the business plan.
In order to attract more customers and prove the benefits of using BugBox technology, a more comprehensive impact analysis with calculations was carried out. BugBox’s resource saving assessment follows two methodologies. The first will indicate the resource savings compared to current insect rearing technologies (direct impact), the second method will compare production of insect derived protein to animal derived protein (wider impact).
1) Direct impact. The first environmental impact assessment method serves as an example of how adoption of BugBox’s innovative technology by insect farmers can save resources. BugBox’s innovative technology is the first of its kind and enables to save resources by fully automating the processes and measuring all input data. Resource savings will be determined by comparing the baseline values with prognosed BugBox’s technology values, taking onto consideration that 1 farm consists of 50 reactors and produces 150 000 kg of insects per year. Comparing these amounts, this results in saving approximately 32% of feed (40 tonns CO2), 53% water (0,78 tonnes CO2) and 8% energy.
2) Wider impact. BugBox is targeting the technology not only towards insect farmers, but food producers in general. Thus, reducing animal farming by replacing some amount of it with insect farming further reduces resources, as insect farming requires notably less feed, water, energy and land. The following calculation is based on production 1 kg Acheta Whole using BugBox’s technology with production of 1 kg beef. Comparing these amounts, even more extensive amounts of feed, water and energy will be saved (exact calculations in technical report).