Beta Hatch, a Washington-based company industrializing the production of insects as a sustainable protein for animal feed, has won $135,000 in funding and cash prizes at the annual Flywheel Investment Conference in Wenatchee, Washington. In its third year, the conference is directed by the Greater Wenatchee Area Technology Alliance (GWATA), a nonprofit bringing people and resources together while supporting entrepreneurs, STEM education and technology in North Central Washington. The FlyWheel event was launched with support from Voyager Capital and inspired by the great success of the Bend Venture Conference which encourages investment in startups in communities outside of big cities.
Beta Hatch, currently based in Seattle, will be relocating in summer 2019 to the Wenatchee area. The FlyWheel win represents huge support from the small community of 110,000 known as ‘The Apple Capital of the World.’ Beta Hatch is one of many companies looking to move out of large cities and into smaller communities to take advantage of the lower cost of doing business and a better lifestyle for its employees. This is particularly important for AgTech startups like Beta Hatch that seek to scale to meet the demands of a changing agricultural system. The growing human population requires innovation across multiple sectors, including agriculture which is not generally an urban enterprise.
“Although a small part of the overall investment we need to reach scale, the FlyWheel group represents the interests of our new community and the connections built with that new community are invaluable,” said Beta Hatch Founder and CEO Dr. Virginia Emery. “We are very excited to move to Wenatchee where the land, labor and energy will all be more affordable for our business.”
In Chelan County, where Beta Hatch is gearing up to build its first commercial flagship facility, electricity can be as cheap as 3¢/kWh – the savings add up considerably. The flagship, which expects to produce 1 ton of insect biomass daily, will also use waste heat from an adjacent data center to fuel its insect production and further reduce energy use. Talent and human capital will be critical as the Company scales, and location is key.
“The outdoor sports and leisure opportunities in the beautiful wilderness of the Wenatchee area are bound to attract top talent looking for the lifestyle that includes time spent enjoying nature,” Emery added. “Even our name reflects our passion for the outdoors: ‘Beta’ is a rock-climbing term, which is the secret intel to help a climber get to the top of a rock face. ‘Beta Hatch’ literally means the secret intel to hatch the next generation of food.”
Beta Hatch has already raised $4.8M via grants and investment from companies like Cavallo Ventures, the venture capital arm of Wilbur-Ellis. There are plans to rapidly deploy dozens of farms to scale the production of insects as a new crop. For more information about Beta Hatch and how it is changing the future of protein for animal feed, please visit its website at www.betahatch.com.