Posted on Sep 20, 2022, 7pm
Rare, again, are industrial start-ups that manage to incubate in their market. With this news of raising 250 million euros (including 38 million in debt), Innovafeed changes its dimension to produce on a large scale its insect culture protein, intended to feed farm animals.
Here are seven things to know about this nugget of the FrenchTech 120 that could very well become the next industrial unicorn.
1. The start-up grows black soldier fly larvae
In scientific terms, the “Hermetia illucens” (black soldier fly) is an insect whose proteins are reduced to flour, oil or fertilizer. They are used to feed livestock such as trout, poultry and pigs, but also in aquaculture and pet food.
French start-up Agronutrie is betting on the same insect when the other giant in the sector, Ÿnsect, grows Molitor and Buffalo beetles.
2. McKinsey Alumni
Aude Guo, Clément Ray and Bastien Oggeri are the three former McKinsey consultants. Aude Guo and Clément Ray met during projects in the public sector, when Bastien Oggeri was a former classmate of Clément Ray. Originally, the start-up had a fourth founder, now deceased.
3. 450 million euros of accumulated funding
Innovafeed wastes no time: 55 million in 2018, 140 million in 2020 and 250 million in 2022. In total, the company founded in 2016 received a total of 450 million euros in funding.
Among its historic shareholders, the industrial start-up notably includes Creedev (an investment firm of the Mulliez family) and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek. Both returned to the pot during the latest funding round led by the sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). New money that will allow the nugget to continue its R&D work, but also to increase the financing of its factory in Nesle (Somme).
4. A growing but undisclosed assessment
According to its latest available accounts, the company generated 292,000 euros of turnover for 8.65 million euros of losses in 2020. These figures are not surprising given the investments required to launch industrial parks.
With this new round, the founders ensure that the company’s valuation is on the rise, without specifying the value. Only one thing is certain: she is not yet a unicorn, but the threshold “is approaching”, according to Clément Ray.
5. A former Danone employee joins the start-up’s ranks
The nugget can boast of a good catch with Yves Amsellem, a former engineer at Chromology and Danone, where he opened and operated industrial facilities on several continents (Asia, America, Europe) for twenty years. He is recruited as director of operations. Approached by a headhunter, he claims to have taken the risk “without hesitation”.
Internally, Maye Walraven, a French-American, former vice president of business development for the group for five years, has been promoted to general manager for North America.
6. A company between Paris and the North (and the United States)
The company’s headquarters are located in Nesle, in the Somme (North), where Innovafeed’s main factory is located. It also has a pilot site, still to the north, in Gouzeaucourt. However, it maintains offices in Paris, near the Gare du Nord, for some of its teams.
Since the end of 2020, Innovafeed has been accelerating in the United States, with the construction of a factory located in Decatur (Illinois). Another site, likely “located in Europe or Asia,” according to Clément Ray, the co-founder, is expected to be announced in the coming months.
7. A model of “industrial symbiosis”
The start-up developed the colocation model: creating synergies between geographically close factories. In Nesle, for example, Innovafeed has partnered with the Tereos starch factory, where it mainly recovers unused agricultural waste to feed and raise its black soldier fly larvae.
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