SproutX is a joint venture between Findex and the National Farmers’ Federation. It’s an innovation hub and startup accelerator designed specifically for the Agtech sector- the first of its kind in Australia.
SproutX focuses on nurturing startups and entrepreneurs to help transform the country’s $100 billion agriculture sector by helping solve a broad range of problems in the industry, using innovative solutions.
Eight startup teams have been selected to join this year’s SproutX program; each receive $40,000 in capital, access to ongoing mentoring from industry experts and office space for six months.
This month we introduce you to Edible Bug Shop.
What is your startup and what problem is it solving for the agriculture industry?
As our population grows we will need to produce more food, in more efficient ways. We have developed sustainable farming techniques that reuse food waste to produce a tiny, nutritious superfood. We have innovated with automated farming technologies to help make edible insects more accessible to consumers.
Tell us more about your enterprise and what inspired this idea?
I started Edible Bug Shop in 2007 after a visit to Thailand. When I arrived back home in Australia I was very surprised that no one was farming insects locally and there were no commercial edible insect products available in Australia. I have a degree in entomology as well as a degree in Food Science (which seemed like a strange combination at the time but works really well for me now!), so I really felt the need to learn more about insects as a source of food, and once I did, I felt compelled to help consumers understand the importance of including insects as a food item, because they are good for us, and good for our planet. Fast forward 10 years, we have a range of retail products in health food stores, we are Asia Pacific’s largest online retailer of products containing insects and we are expanding to meet the demand for our products (both locally and overseas).
What hurdles have you faced and conquered on your startup journey so far?
When we first started breeding insects they were classed as a novel food item, but we have worked closely with the food authority and in 2015 they were moved from the novel food list, and now have the same standards as anything else you would purchase in the supermarket. This was a great leap forward for edible insect products in Australia.
The most obvious hurdle we have had to overcome is the “ick” factor that most people will have when they are presented with a bug to eat. My unique set of skills has allowed me to develop retail products (as well as bulk ingredients) with invisible insects. This allows consumers to have all of the health and nutritional benefits of eating insects without that mental barrier. We have developed burgers, cookies and even ice cream, that have insect protein hidden inside.
How can interested clients, farmers, or investors contact you?
Email us! firstname.lastname@example.org