LIVIN farms gets €6m to deliver on its ready-to-go industrial insect farming module promise

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

HIVE PRO factory © Aurelian Böhler for LIVIN farms
HIVE PRO factory © Aurelian Böhler for LIVIN farms

Related tags black soldier fly larvae Waste Insect LIVIN farms pet food

Vienna based startup, LIVIN Farms, has raised €6m (US$5.85m) in a Series A round led by venture investor, Peter Luerssen.

The company has developed HIVE PRO, a scalable and modular system for fully automated Black Soldier Fly (BSF) processing that can be deployed to waste management companies and food producers.

The idea is to upcycle organic waste and by-products as rearing substrates for BSF larvae, which are then processed into defatted protein meal, fats, and fertilizers. 

HIVE PRO plug and play unit © LIVIN farms

“LIVIN farms is on a mission to revolutionize the up-cycling of organic waste; it is poised to become a major player in this fast-growing industry,”​ said Luerssen.

The Austrian startup previously secured a seed investment round, grants, and subsidies from Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG), Austrian Promotional Bank (AWS) and the European Innovation Council (EIC) under the EU Green Deal, totaling over €4m.

The proceeds of the latest investment round will go towards supporting further growth of the company and will be used for expanding the LIVIN farms team, technology standardization and driving forward the initial scale-up phase. The plug and play factory supplier’s team comprises 20 employees right now.

“We have hired key staff to execute the business model,” ​said Katharina Unger, founder and CEO of LIVIN farms.

The complete process of the HIVE PRO, from insect rearing to robotic insect handling and end-product processing, is fully automated. And the industrial insect farming modules are remotely monitored and automatically replenished with insect seedlings (baby larvae) once a life cycle process is completed.

LIVIN farms has recently opened a 1,400 sq. m pilot site and demonstration unit near the airport in Vienna. “This is where we carry out bio-feasibility studies for customers. It would be the smallest scale unit that we would recommend in terms of our factory installations,” ​Unger said.

Projects in play 

The company is already working on projects with customers in Turkey, Spain, and Germany, typically targeting a few thousand tons of waste per year at each of those sites, she told us. "These could be use as demonstration sites as well."

Clients, continued the CEO, would be investment-minded, medium scale businesses such as baked goods or potato processing factories that are looking to be more waste efficient, how they could turn their by-products into a revenue stream. “Usually, they would have to pay to dispose of their waste.” 

Pet food ingredient buyers are, currently, proving to be the dominant sector in terms of interest in the BSF meal or fat produced by the HIVE PRO, said the CEO. But the poultry starter feed segment could be another likely end user.

Unlike some other players in this field, the Austrian firm is not providing harvested larvae as a live feed for poultry, which, Unger argues, is constrained in terms of application.  

BSF larvae livin farms
BSF larvae @ Paris Tsitsos for LIVIN farms

BSF larvae are 'natural waste upcyclers' says LIVIN farms:

  • They can grow on a large variety of wet and dry feedstock. They prefer their feedstock as a ‘slurry’, ​i.e., comprising 70% moisture.
  • High speed lifecycle: The rearing stage of the larvae takes only up to 7 days. 
  • Mass rearing is natural: BSF larvae naturally live in high densities.
  • High nutrient accumulation: Insects can recover up to 70% of proteins from their feeds. They are rich in proteins, lipids, and minerals.

Customized approach

LIVIN Farms modulates the factories according to the customer’s needs and supervises the set-up of each unit.

It has over 80 substrates in its field trial database that it has tested to determine the economic viability of a modular unit based on a customer’s waste substrate. “We also produce seedlings at our site in Vienna and supply those continuously to the customer.”

In addition, the company has a separate business, shipping those insect seedlings to already established insect farms that are located throughout Europe.

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