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NRGene Canada, Bühler launch North American Insect Center

This research center for collaborative innovation marks a significant milestone in the advancement of insect protein production in North America.

Black Soldier Fly
Mauricio Acosta Rojas | BigStock.com

NRGene Canada, NRGene’s Canadian subsidiary, has opened its North American Insect Center (NAIC). This research center for collaborative innovation was established together with the Swiss technology group Bühler, marking a significant milestone in the advancement of insect protein production in North America.

The NAIC is located at NRGene Canada’s facility in Saskatchewan. This cutting-edge center will serve as a testing and demonstration facility for both companies’ customers, offering them the opportunity to evaluate the performance of chosen black soldier fly (BSF) varieties on the byproduct streams available to the customers.

The NAIC will allow customers to assess BSF varieties, operational parameters and practices for efficient industrial-scale production. This collaborative approach enables informed decisions and maximizes BSF’s potential as a sustainable protein source. The center will serve as a hub for innovation, supporting the growth of the insect protein industry in North America. Additionally, the center will offer workshops, training sessions, and seminars to educate the industry stakeholders on the benefits and best practices of insect protein production.

NRGene’s extensive BSF variety collection, combined with advanced genomics and phenotyping capabilities, enables the development of tailored BSF strains with improved functionalities such as better feed conversion rate or higher protein content while considering customers’ specific byproduct-based feed. This tailored approach ensures that the selected variety is of the highest quality and efficiency, meeting the diverse needs of the industry.

To test the industrial performance of the new strains, Bühler has installed its advanced trial rearing unit (TRU), a climate-controlled larvae growth chamber capable of simulating industrial conditions. The TRU is used for optimizing the growth and development of BSF larvae to obtain a validated mass balance for industrial performance. This validation is a crucial step in assessing the profitability of an insect protein production facility.

Preliminary trials conducted at the NAIC with the TRU have yielded promising results, demonstrating the potential NRGene’s BSF larvae paired with Bühler’s advanced rearing technology.

“The performance of NRGene’s BSF larvae in these trials highlights the potential of the collaboration between NRGene and Bühler. This demonstrates the potential of combining advanced technology with genetic innovation, paving the way for impactful advancements in the insect industry,” said Dr. Gil Ronen, CEO and co-founder of NRGene.

Andreas Baumann, head of market segment insect technology at Bühler, adds: “The center will serve as a meeting place for our clients, particularly those from North America, to collaboratively optimize insect plant operation. Together, we can fine-tune both biological and technological aspects, to maximize the value of our clients’ projects.”

The center is located in Saskatoon at the Innovation Center of the Saskatchewan University. This region is notable, as Saskatchewan produces tens of millions of tons of byproducts from grain processing plants each year. NRGene Canada is in advanced talks with local food producers to evaluate the suitability of their waste for growing BSF. This initiative not only provides a sustainable solution for waste management but also establishes a new value chain in the local circular economy.

“The establishment of the NAIC in Saskatchewan is a testament to our commitment to driving innovation in the insect protein industry,” said Dr. Masood Rizvi, general manager of NRGene Canada. “This facility will position Saskatchewan as a global center for insect protein production. By leveraging our advanced research capabilities, we aim to support local and regional economies while setting a new standard for sustainable protein production.”

As the demand for sustainable protein grows, BSF stands out as an alternative to animal feed. By utilizing organic waste and supporting a circular economy, while meeting nutritional needs. The NAIC highlights our commitment to advancing sustainable practices and promotes BSF as a key player in the protein industry.

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