Dutch biotech-startup Protix banks €45M to breed insects for aquaculture

Dutch biotech-startup Protix banks €45M to breed insects for aquaculture

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Did you know that one-third of caught fish is used to process into animal feed? According to Protix, a biotech-startup founded 2009, that’s a huge waste. Insects – actually, larvae, could serve as a great protein alternative. Today, the company announced it closed a whopping €45M funding round, led by Aqua-Spark, the first investment company focused on sustainable aquaculture. Dutch bank Rabobank, regional investment fund BOM and various private investors participated in the round.

Low-impact protein

Protix breeds insect larvae for animal feed, as they offer a low-impact protein alternative that can be cultivated on a variety of food scraps. According to the biotech-startup, “this is of the utmost importance as global populations continue to grow and the demand for meat, fish and dairy surges. Food production is increasingly under pressure, with added challenges of deforestation and overfishing.”


The reason behind Aqua-Spark’s investment is Protix potential uses for aquaculture. Cultivated fish raised using sustainable aquaculture methods could offer a solution to the global food crisis because they have a lower, perhaps the lowest, environmental impact of any animal protein. Now, 33% of all wild caught fish is processed into animal feed, and alternatives like soy contribute to deforestation and do not reflect a natural diet.

Insect production

The Brabant-based startup, that labels itself as a technology and data-driven company, has turned insect production into a commercially viable model by serving the animal feed industry, while also developing food applications for consumers. Protix’ products are used in over 12 countries to date, in feed applications ranging from pig and poultry to pet food specialties. One of the clients is three-star Michelin restaurant De Librije, that serves insect fed trout.

Protix found by two McKinsey colleagues

Protix was founded in 2009 by two former McKinsey & Company colleagues, Kees Aarts and Tarique Arsiwalla. “With €45M in funding, we plan to expand Protix’s production capacity, especially within the aquaculture industry where the main challenge is creating a sustainable, healthy feed. Protix will also deepen its biological and technical R&D and diversify to other markets like food,” Protix CEO Kees Aarts stated.


Utrecht-based Aqua-Spark, founded by Mike Velings and Amy Novogratz, note that they’re “selective about the companies we invest in; and Protix fits well with Aqua-Spark’s portfolio and aligns with our mission and values. Combined with excellent potential returns and through its partnership with Bühler, the leading solution provider for the food and feed industry, Protix is expected to enable industry acceleration globally.”


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