Experts in insect genetics Beta Bugs launches a new insect breeding facility in Midlothian & creates five jobs

Dr Thomas Farrugia, PhD graduate and founder of Beta Bugs

AGRI-food biotechnology company, Beta Bugs, based at the Easter Bush Campus in Midlothian’s Science Zone, launches a new insect breeding facility and creates five new jobs, following support from various organisations, including Business Gateway Midlothian.

Founded by entrepreneur and PhD graduate, Dr Thomas Farrugia, the company, which is at the forefront of driving a sustainable bioeconomy in Scotland by developing and distributing high-performance insect breeds as a source of protein for animal feed, has expanded its team from  five to ten to help consolidate its position into the wider agri-food markets.

Following the completion of his PhD and first tasting of insects on a trip to Antwerp, Thomas joined Deep Science Ventures where he began researching how environmentally friendly and versatile insect-based products could be and how they could provide a different source of protein which could change the feeding habits of livestock and fish farms.

He then launched Beta Bugs, as an insect genetics company in 2017, with the goal of creating high-performance breeds of Black Soldier Fly to accelerate the growth of the insect farming sector, enabling insect protein to compete on price with existing animal and aqua-feed ingredients. As a result, the agricultural supply chain will benefit from a more sustainable and regionally produced source of protein.  

Over the last 18 months the company has secured £133k of private investment, along with £1.2m in grant funding, including £100k from Scottish Government’s Unlocking Ambition programme and £84k from the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund to help the company grow its operations during Covid-19 lockdowns.

Support for Beta Bugs from Business Gateway Midlothian has included help with establishing the company’s operations within the Science Zone in Midlothian and scaling up their breeding programme at the Easter Bush Campus, which now houses its new dedicated insect breeding facility.

Thomas said:  “We are delighted to be in a position to expand our team and build a dedicated insect breeding facility thanks to help from various organisations including Business Gateway Midlothian who have been instrumental in our growth since we started out.

“Having our own adviser to keep us right along the way and signpost us to other available resources has been invaluable and really helped us to carve out a niche for ourselves in the UK and International genetic insect market.”

Annie Watt, Business Gateway Midlothian Lead, said: “Beta Bugs is an innovative insect-breeding company leading the way in creating genetics for the fast growing ‘insects-as-feed’ industry, which we are delighted to support.

“Our Carbon Charter highlights Midlothian’s dedication to supporting green businesses and seeing a local business with a focus on innovative, sustainable practices flourish in the area is fantastic.

“Our aim is to help businesses become more energy and carbon efficient and realise financial savings, while also celebrating the businesses who are at the forefront of the environmental movement.

“Within a few short years, Beta Bugs has gone from strength to strength and it’s been a pleasure to watch this exciting business grow. The new jobs brought to the area support the continued Economic Development of Midlothian and help to showcase the area’s diverse job prospects and business landscape.”

Business Gateway Midlothian provides expert support and guidance to new and existing businesses, including free advice from experienced business advisers to help start-ups and growth businesses planning to expand or find new ways of doing business.  

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