Omnivore’s mission is to make Indian agriculture and food systems more profitable, sustainable, resilient, and climate-proof. While we are active investors in digital platforms and tech-enabled marketplaces, we believe some of the most important innovations for Indian farmers will come from the agrifood life sciences (ALFS) ecosystem. In India, the agrifood life sciences sector encompasses agricultural biotechnology, novel farming systems, bioenergy and biomaterials, as well as innovative foods, including alternative protein.
As of 2022, India has the third-largest startup ecosystem globally and likewise ranks third after the USA and China in agritech funding. However, India’s AFLS ecosystem has yet to experience the same boom in entrepreneurship and funding. This is due to a multitude of reasons, including lukewarm levels of interest from the VC investor community. As a step towards catalyzing the agrifood life sciences sector in India, we launched OmniX Bio earlier this year, and our second investment as part of this initiative is Loopworm.
Based in Bangalore, Loopworm was founded in 2019 by IIT Roorkee graduates Ankit Bagaria and Abhi Gawri. The startup is optimizing insect farming for smallholders while producing value-added nutrients and ingredients for B2B customers. Using insect biotechnology, Loopworm is upcycling food waste, and its circular economy approach will help transform multiple sectors including aquaculture, pet food, and nutraceuticals.
Until now, insect cultivation in India has been limited to honey and silk production. However, as we shift towards a more protein-intensive future with shrinking natural resources, innovations in insect biotechnology will be critical for bridging the looming gap in protein supply. Moreover, insect cultivation has a remarkably small carbon footprint as it does not require arable land, high volumes of potable water, and has negligible GHG emissions. Over the past two years, Loopworm has conducted over 20,000 experiments on 60 types of food waste to optimize the process of breeding, incubating, farming, and processing insect-based ingredients.
For farmers, Loopworm’s intervention augments their incomes, as it turns insect rearing into a smallholder activity, similar to poultry or aquaculture. Owing to the abundance of nearby raw materials (food waste), farmers can set up operations with relatively low capital expenditure. Loopworm is focusing on non-invasive species of insects, including black soldier flies (BSF) and silkworms. Over the next five years, the startup aims to produce 300,000 MT of sustainable insect-based protein per annum, creating value from 7.5 million MT of food waste and agricultural byproducts. Eventually, Loopworm plans to develop insect-based ingredients for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and other high-value industrial applications.
We are thrilled to welcome Loopworm to the Omnivore portfolio, under the OmniX Bio initiative. Stay tuned as they chart a new course for insect biotechnology and alternative protein in India!