Mr Bug Wins A Prestigious Innovate Award for Sustainable Mealworm Production
Updated: Jun 1
Mr Bug is one of 50 successful projects to have been announced from four key competitions in the latest Farming Innovation Programme milestones.
Following the completion of four substantial competitions under the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) Farming Innovation Programme, 50 projects have secured valuable funding.
This will allow them to advance their innovations that aim to address some of the key issues facing the farmers and growers in England.
The competitions, which were again delivered by Innovate UK’s Transforming Food Production challenge, covered a range of important innovation areas, including climate-focused solutions, farming technology and smaller research and development (R&D) concepts still at their early stages.
In each case, the ability to demonstrate a project’s role in meeting net zero, productivity and sustainability ambitions across the food space was key to their success.
For all its light-hearted messaging and whimsical brand identity, the fact remains that Mr Bug is operating in a cutting-edge farming environment offering significant sustainable upsides.
The irrefutable evidence is that farming insect protein offers the planet an altogether lighter touch on the environment (using less land, feed and water) than traditional farming, the reality remains that there is still plenty of wiggle room for further feedstock improvements; namely avoiding feed that could be used for human consumption OR optimizing the best feeds which supports optimum mealworm growth and protein counts.
The successful pitch put forward by the Devon-based Mr Bug team revolved around solving the key bottlenecks that continue to stifle a significant reduction in mealworm protein production costs; such as feedstock and labour by introducing invaluable, time-saving automation.
The invaluable Innovate award will enable Mr Bug to dig deeper into mealworm behaviour, developing ‘self-cleaning’ rearing trays that use the movement of the mealworms to clear waste coupled with robotic cameras and heat sensors to not only identify optimal feeding, but act as an ‘early warning’ system with regards disease or unwelcome pests.
‘We’re very proud of our pioneering work with the University of West England,’ explains Mr Bug co-founder, Conal Cunningham, ‘however cutting-edge A1 and robotics monitoring doesn’t come cheap, so we’re very appreciative of our prestigious Innovate grant.’