Founded in 2017 by Chua Kai-Ning Chua and Phua Jun Wei, Insectta uses waste from soybean factories and breweries to cultivate maggots. The insects can be freeze dried into animal feed, and their excrement can be used as fertilizer.
However, unlike most insect startups, Insectta is also looking at high-value products like chitosan, which is found in maggot cocoons and can be used as a thickener in moisturizers or to form an antimicrobial layer in face masks. “During R&D, we realized that a lot of precious biomaterials that already have market value can be extracted from these flies,” Chua tells CNN Business. The company is in talks with cosmetics and pharmaceutical companies.
“When people think of maggots, the first thing they think is that they’re gross and harmful to people,” Chua adds. “By putting the benefits first, we can transform people’s ‘gross factor.'”