PARIS — Ÿnsect, a French ag tech startup founded in 2011, has closed its series C funding round with $372 million in investments. In total, the insect protein-producing startup has raised $425 million from global investors since its founding.
Ÿnsect reported its series C funding amount is “the largest amount ever raised by a non-American ag tech business.”
“Our ambition is to revolutionize the food chain which, literally, starts from the basics: insects and soil,” said Antoine Hubert, co-founder, president and chief executive officer of Ÿnsect. “It concerns all of us, whether we are meat lovers or vegans because it is how our plants and animals are fed.
“Ÿnsect isn’t just about insect farming; with climate change and increasing populations worldwide, we need to produce more food with less available land and fewer resources, so that we’re not clearing forests and emptying our oceans,” he continued. “We believe Ÿnsect can play a pivotal role in this global solution.”
The company uses 98% less land than traditional protein production, therefore significantly reducing its carbon and biodiversity footprints, and generates zero-waste from operations.
The series C funding round was led by Brussels-based Astanor Ventures, Los Angeles-based Upfront Ventures, US-based FootPrint Coalition, which is owned by celebrity Robert Downey Jr., Hong Kong-based Happiness Capital, Paris-based Supernova Invest, and Armat Group in Luxembourg. Upfront Ventures and FootPrint Coalition represent the first two American firms to invest in Ÿnsect.
The company raised $148 million of its total $372 million series C funding back in 2019.
According to Ÿnsect, funding will help the company complete construction of the world’s largest vertical farm, located in north Paris, and the first to operate as carbon negative. The company will also use investments to develop its product lines and expand into North America.
The vertical insect farm is located in Amiens, France and will begin operations in early 2022 with the capacity to produce 100,000 tons of insect products per year. The facility will directly and indirectly create an estimated 500 jobs.
Ÿnsect has patented its process for cultivating and processing Molitor mealworms into a variety of highly digestible, sustainable proteins and fertilizer products. The company claims its insect protein from mealworms offers a more dramatic yield and greater health benefits than black soldier fly proteins.
“Several scientific studies have demonstrated that using Ÿnsect products in place of traditional animal proteins and chemical fertilizers have led to a 34% increase in yield for rainbow trout, a 40% mortality reduction on shrimp, 25% increase in yield for rapeseed, a 25% mortality reduction for seabass, and a reduction in skin disease for dogs, among others,” the company reported.
The company owns approximately 30 patents for technologies related to insect processing, which represents 40% of all patents issued to the top 10 insect protein companies globally.
Ÿnsect has signed $105 million worth of sales contracts, reinforcing a growing demand for sustainable protein and fertilizer alternatives.
"Antoine and his team are tackling one of the world's most pressing and significant problems: building a stable and sustainable food supply," said Yves Sisteron, managing partner at Upfront Ventures and a member of Ÿnsect’s board. "Solving such a critical global issue requires deep technology and an ambitious vision, and we're thrilled to partner with this team for the journey."
Currently, Ÿnsect is focused on producing products for the animal feed and plant nutrition markets. The company has pushed forward amid the COVID-19 pandemic by implementing PPE and stringent hygiene standards.
“We’ve shown that we can weather significant shocks like coronavirus, which in the coming decades is going to be a significant differentiator between businesses,” Hubert said.
Several banking institutions also contributed to the company’s equity and debt financing surrounding its investments, including Caisse des Dépôts, the venture arm of the French government; Crédit Agricole Brie-Picardie; Caisse d’Epargne Hauts de France; Arkea; Crédit Mutuel; BNP Paribas; Credit Agricole Franche Comté; and Caisse d’Epargne Normandie.
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