Fera Science has invested £1m into creating an insect research laboratory at its base at bioscience hub, York Biotech Campus (YBC). The expansion involves converting a former storage unit on-site into a purpose-built insect research unit and will see the business’s presence at YBC grow by over 2,000 sq. ft.
The laboratory will allow Fera to upscale its current insect services and help meet the needs of clients from across the food industry by being able to show insect bioconversion at scale and replicate the nature of insect farming in a factory.
Insect bioconversion is the process of feeding insects waste to create additional materials, such as protein or fertilizer, and is a hugely sustainable practice that reduces waste, provides alternative food for animal feed, and reduces the environmental impact of sourcing for protein in already depleted areas, ultimately helping to combat climate change.
Services that Fera will be able to offer its clients include advising how companies can benefit from insect bioconversion to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, as waste that usually ends in landfills can be used to benefit the circular economy instead, as well as using their waste to create an additional revenue stream.
The laboratory will not only support Fera’s clients but will also enable collaborations with university partners, start-ups, insect farms and support policy and regulatory authorities within the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Work on the unit started on site this month, with the operational launch of the laboratory set for July 2022. In line with the launch of the new laboratory, Fera will also be expanding its team and is looking to recruit six team members across the coming months.
Damian Malins, Venturing Projects Director at Fera Science said: “We’re extremely excited about opening our new insect research laboratory, as it means we’re able to deliver far more to all our clients including commercial and public sector, as well as research partners.
“What’s even better is that we’re growing our base at YBC. The campus sits at the heart of an agricultural region that is driving the circular economy and bio-based industry. The collaboration it encourages is fantastic, and through connections with other tenants and near neighbors we have already established links to food producers, community groups, and agri-businesses who wish to explore the potential of insect farming as part of their net carbon zero objectives.”
Fera Science has plans to bring further innovative technology to the site and the region under the BioYorkshire initiative. Working alongside the University of York and Askham Bryan College, proposals include establishing two new facilities including the research cube, a highly automated control environment supporting Fera’s work into plant and insect farming research, as well as a packaging hub.