Entobel, a Singaporean AgTech startup that has been operating in Vietnam since 2013, announced it has successfully raised $30 million in funding from Mekong Capital’s Mekong Enterprise Fund IV and Dragon Capital. The biotech company produces insect-based ingredients from black soldier flies for various industries, including animal feed, pet food, and fertilizer. Entobel has three main products: insect meal, insect oil, and organic fertilizer.
Founded by two Belgian entrepreneurs, Gaëtan Crielaard and Alexandre de Caters, with a mission to close the loop in the global food system by upcycling low-value biomass into functional ingredients thanks to insects. The founders came to Vietnam after realizing the huge potential of insect protein for animal nutrition during their business school years.
With this new funding, Entobel plans a global expansion of its insect protein technology, having had a “growing blue-chip customer base” and industrial partnerships for R&D activities, Gaëtan and Alexandre said. Both also ensure their market relevance and competitiveness in the long run.
Sjoerd Zwinkels, Mekong Capital’s Deal Leader for Entobel, said they believe in the founders of Entobel who showed so much grit and perseverance to build one of the largest insect protein production companies in the world today.
“The Entobel’s team is solving one of the big problems in the world by using insects to create a sustainable protein, which will reduce the environmental footprint of our global food chain while making the food value chain safer and more sustainable,” Sjoerd said. “This is a truly circular economy as they take by-products and convert them to protein, oil, and organic fertilizer. There is virtually no waste.”
In 2019, Entobel constructed one of the largest insect production sites in the world in Dong Nai, a province in the southeast region of Vietnam. The site can accommodate an annual capacity of 1,000 tons of insect meal.
By 2023, Entobel’s next plant will be operational and will respond to the rising global demand while supporting the reduction of its global food chain’s environmental footprint.
Duong Do Quyen, Director and Head of Principal Investments of Dragon Capital said the investment in Entobel fits well with Dragon Capital’s responsible investment principles, as insect protein offers sustainable, high quality, and cost-effective alternatives to conventional animal protein, oil and fertilizer sources, especially in aquafeeds.
“We saw great potential in Entobel’s profitable and sustainable premium insect-based ingredients for various industries,” Quyen said. “Entobel founders’ passion, in-depth understanding of the business, and considerable first-hand experience in the industry further reinforce our confidence that this model can be rolled out on an industrial scale.”
While the startup is based in Singapore, Entobel chose Vietnam as its production site because of the tropical climate condition, abundant sources of feedstock from the country’s agriculture activities, and F&B production. Entobel is also taking advantage of the growing aquaculture market, being the main application of insect protein ingredients in Vietnam. To Gaëtan and Alexandre, being in Vietnam gives their biotech company a significant and sustainable competitive advantage.
Entobel runs commercial-scale production sites in Vietnam and exports products worldwide. The AgTech startup complies with the highest standards in the industry (ISO22000), only uses traceable feedstocks, and is FDA approved.
The name ‘Entobel’ comes from a compound name: ‘ento’ from the Greek word for insect and ‘bel’ from Belgium, the founders’ home country.