InnovaFeed is opening the world’s largest insect farm, in the Département of Somme.
The key to success of InnovaFeed? The commercialisation of a new source of protein from insect farming (Hermetia illucens, the black soldier fly), notably for animal feed and aquaculture. The start-up will soon be opening the world’s largest insect plant in Nesle, in the Département of Somme. Each year over 10,000 tonnes of protein should be leaving the production site (construction investment of 50 million euros, 110 employees).
A WORD FROM…
Clément RAY, co-founder of InnovaFeed
When and how did the InnovaFeed story begin?
New models are required to meet the challenges of the food system of tomorrow: sustainability, protection of biodiversity and food security. This is why InnovaFeed was founded in 2016, with the goal of making insects an essential link in our food system. The breakthrough technology developed by InnovaFeed, a biotechnology company specialising in insect breeding, enables us to produce lipids for animal feed in order to meet the growing demand for proteins while contributing to the development of a more sustainable food system.
What are the milestones and major projects that have marked the growth of the company?
InnovaFeed first of all developed its activities at Génopole, a research laboratory located in Evry. There we were able to conduct our first R&D trials and to define our strategic priorities.
Very quickly, in October 2017, InnovaFeed opened its first pilot unit in Gouzeaucourt, in northern France. This site enabled us to establish a partnership with Auchan in December 2018, positioning us as a leading company in the commercialisation of fish fed on insect protein, and notably the creation of a responsible sector for trout. Similarly, in June 2020 we launched the commercialisation of insect-fed poultry in partnership with Auchan in the Hauts-de-France region.
InnovaFeed will now be opening its second plant in Nesle by the end of the year. This industrial upscaling will create over 100 jobs in the Département of Nord and is aiming to produce 15kt of insect-based protein.
How has the Hauts-de-France region supported you?
The Hauts-de-France region has been of great help. It first of all helped InnovaFeed to select the Gouzeaucourt site for its pilot and subsequently the Nesle site, both of them at the heart of the richest source of agro-industrial by-products in Europe. The support was also financed through two repayable advances in 2017 and 2019 in order to support our investment programme.
The Hauts-de-France region has also helped InnovaFeed to develop a high-performance environmental model in the context of the regional FRATRI programme supporting the third industrial revolution: the first energy optimisation programme in 2017 at the pilot site in Gouzeaucourt and further support in 2019 to conduct the studies required to optimise energy consumption at the Nesle site.
What are your development plans for the future?
It is the goal of InnovaFeed to become the global market leader in protein production by establishing the best-performing insect protein production model in the world, positioning us as the first operator to have such facilities ready to be deployed. The industry is currently at a key stage, with the market calling for 1,000,000 tonnes of alternative proteins within 5 years (x 1000).
Against this background, InnovaFeed has structured its development in multiple macro-phases:
- Technological development: the first phase. This consists of validating the main biotechnological characteristics of the insect development model for Hermetia illucens.
- Project validation: the second phase consists of validating the model on an industrial scale. This means building a pilot unit at the Gouzeaucourt site, chosen for its location at the heart of a network of different raw materials suppliers.
- Industrial upscaling: the third phase. This consists of building a production unit able to achieve profitability on an industrial scale. The unit increases its production capacity to 15,000 tonnes of protein meal per year.
- Industrial deployment: After completing its first full-scale site, InnovaFeed will be establishing 4/5 other sites in France and abroad. It will be question of replicating the Nesle industrialisation at different sites.
InnovaFeed is part of the Rev3 third industrial revolution programme being implemented in the Hauts-de-France region. Rev3 is a collective dynamic designed to transform the Hauts-de-France region into one of Europe’s most advanced regions in energy transition and digital technologies.