Beta Hatch, a Washington-based company industrializing the production of insects as a sustainable protein for animal feed, was awarded $937,800 by the Washington State Department of Commerce. This grant comes as part of the state’s $8.2 million Clean Energy Fund (CEF) program that invests in the development, demonstration and deployment of clean energy technology across industries. Beta Hatch insects are grown indoors, in controlled environments that are kept warm and humid. The CEF project will support development of a novel waste-heat recovery approach, using low-grade waste heat from a neighboring data center to heat the Beta Hatch insect farming operation.

In the United States, waste heat represents 5-13 quadrillion British thermal units per year of potential energy to be harvested (Department of Energy). With the cheapest electricity in the country, Washington hosts millions of square feet of data centers, many concentrated in Chelan and Douglas counties. These facilities often have extremely high energy capacity and consumption rates (with an average of 9 MW/facility) but provide very few jobs. For this and other reasons, in 2018 Chelan County passed a moratorium on cryptocurrency mining and other high-density load applications. Co-locating Beta Hatch insect production with data centers would remove some of these energy-economy tradeoffs by creating jobs in conjunction with server facilities.

“The additional financial support from the CEF is an incredible vote of confidence for our business and approach of sustainable agriculture from the state of Washington,” said Beta Hatch Founder and CEO Dr. Virginia Emery. “The funds will help to drive operational efficiency at our new flagship facility in Cashmere, Washington, as well as create new opportunities to partner with data centers to sustainably reuse low-grade waste heat while creating co-location and job opportunities.”

The funding from the State comes on the heels of several major grants and investments from key industry stakeholders and companies, including the $135,000 Beta Hatch received as part of its Series A at the annual Flywheel Investment Conference in April. To date, Beta Hatch has secured $2.95M in federal funding for research and development to advance its groundbreaking technology in insect rearing. Collectively, these funds will support the development of the Beta Hatch flagship insect farm facility, which will be the first of its kind in the world.

“At Wilbur-Ellis, we continually look for pioneering entrepreneurs like Dr. Emery who share our vision of sustainability,” said Michael Wilbur, president and CEO of Cavallo Ventures, the venture capital arm of Wilbur-Ellis which previously invested in Beta Hatch. “The CEF grant is yet another indication that the entire ecosystem of farmers, consumers and governmental partners is calling for more innovative solutions.” 

Beta Hatch recently announced their move from Seattle to rural Cashmere in preparation for building its first commercial facility. The flagship facility will be built at the site of a former juice factory, with construction tentatively slated to begin in October.

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.