Most players in the insect processing business are focused on proteins and lipids for feed and fertilizer. Insectta—pitching itself as ‘Singapore’s first insect biotech company’—is targeting higher-value markets such as healthcare and electronics with melanin and chitosan from black soldier flies.
“In a nutshell, we envision a future where insects power our healthcare and electronics,” says cofounder and CMO Chua Kai-Ning, who caught up with AgFunderNews at the Asia-Pacific Agri-Foods Innovation Summit in Singapore last week.
“Our core technology is working with this amazing insect, the black soldier fly, that is a circular solution for waste. We take them, extract chitosan and melanin, two high value biomaterials, and instead of using black soldier flies just for feed and fertilizer, we expand their applications to things like personal wellness products, pharmaceuticals, and even organic electronics.”
Melanin, a dark pigment traditionally “extracted from cuttlefish, fungi, or lab-made,” is costly to manufacture, water-insoluble, and “only available in minute quantities,” she claims. Insectta melanin, by contrast, “can be offered in unprecedented quantities. Even at pilot scale we’re offering 200 times more than current industry offerings, with 100% water-solubility, which potentially opens up completely new markets.”
Chitosan, meanwhile, traditionally comes from crustaceans, “which can be polluting, untraceable, and inconsistent in quality,” she adds. “We’re offering a fully traceable sustainably sourced consistent product with no heavy metals.”