Fly-farmer and insect technology pioneer AgriProtein will acquire 100 percent of Belgian insect feed company Millibeter N.V. and will fund the construction of the first full-scale Millibeter factory in Belgium.

Operating from the Open Manufacturing campus in Turnhout, Antwerp, insect nutrient recycler Millibeter uses the black soldier fly to convert EU-approved organic substrates, such as vegetable waste, into products for the feed and pharmaceutical industries.

Millibeter CEO Johan Jacobs leads a team of entomologists, organic chemists and engineers who will become the nucleus of a new AgriProtein European R&D hub.

“[The acquisition] will accelerate our EU expansion, adding an experienced team who will bring complementary technologies to our growing business," said AgriProtein CEO Jason Drew.

AgriProtein will now build multiple plants in the region and base its European R&D center in Belgium.

The acquisition by AgriProtein is back-to-back with a cash investment by the Innovation Fund and other Belgian investors into Millibeter.

The Innovation Fund also gives AgriProtein access to its network of specialty chemical and life sciences companies.

In addition to the previously announced joint venture with Sustainable Protein in the Netherlands, this gives AgriProtein a strong presence in the Benelux region.

AgriProtein raised $105 million (€92.6 million) in June 2018 and is building a global business through its circular economy model: upcycling organic substrate into insect protein. AgriProtein uses black soldier flies and their larvae to convert these organics into a high-protein alternative to fishmeal for use in aquaculture feeds.

The company has recently expanded its R&D capability to over 45 people based in its state-of-the-art chemistry and genetics laboratories in Cape Town. It has also hired senior staff from engineering and organic substrate management backgrounds to increase its project roll-out capacity.