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Uppsala gives thumbs up to cricket farming

Uppsala gives thumbs up to cricket farming

The protein of the future is gaining more and more recognition

Uppsala’s municipal website announced that the city has recently awarded its Bona Postulata innovation prize to Sciins - a local company involved in insect breeding. The star animals of this farming operation are the crickets used in animal feed and, ever more increasingly, as a source for human nutrition. This is still something of a novelty in Sweden and Europe, yet reportedly the insect breeding market is growing at a rate of 20% per year – a buzzing rate indeed.

Insects have been a traditional source of food in many parts of the world since times immemorial

In the past year, the Uppsala company Sciins has received proper attention, among other things, the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences has named it one of the top hundred research-based companies in Sweden with a focus on sustainability.

The company was started by two researchers from the Swedish Agricultural Sciences University (SLU) - Anna Jansson and Åsa Berggren - whose work involved studying crickets as food source. The breakout moment was when they found a cricket species that does not carry the potentially harmful densovirus.

They, however, give credit for their success to the “Bootcamp" at Uppsala Innovation Centers’ program UIC Business Startup, which provided knowledge and coaching to develop their business concept, identify customers, and test the idea on the market. The programme also included info on financing methods and pitch training. 

To date, Sciins has focused primarily on providing breeders with breeding animals, with several aspects that make them unique and successful. In addition to not carrying the dreaded densovirus, they have also been selected for many generations for large sizes, rapid development and large litters on a high-fibre feed.

This means that by-products from agriculture and the food industry can be used as feed. Our crickets are also under strict control for microorganisms that can otherwise destroy feed and food production,” explained Anna Jansson.

With more capital, she hopes to be able to develop the company by breeding more species. The one closest to Sweden is mainly mealworm larvae, a species that already exists here and does not threaten the local ecosystem.

In the opinion of Jansson, these larvae also hold great potential for being farmed since they can live on by-products that have no value for humans. That is supposedly another market waiting to grow.

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