Academics at Nottingham have an unusual challenge on their plate, and they just might need a helping hand.
The University of Nottingham has partnered with Monkfield Nutrition, one of the UK’s biggest insect breeders, to strike up a more delicious relationship with our creepy-crawly friends.
Insects have proven to be an extremely attractive future source of nutrition for animals and humans alike. Anybody who’s sat through a Bushtucker Trial on the popular reality show ‘I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here’ will be familiar with images of hungry adults stranded in a jungle as they try to chew down on a handful of crickets. Fairly soon, we may actually find ourselves facing these tasty trials at our own kitchen tables!
Industry changing research
The University is now looking for a researcher who has the stomach to work on this industry-changing research project with Monkfield Nutrition. The company began as a family business over 25 years ago as the first commercial live-food breeder in the UK.
Monkfield now produces over four million insects per week as pet food for exotic animals. The demand for live-food multiplies every year as interest in reptile keeping continues to grow. Locusts in particular have rapidly increased in popularity over the past 5 years.
Paul Yeomans, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships Manager at The University of Nottingham, said: “This is an exciting chance for an ambitious bioscience researcher to shape decisions at the forefront of a growing food industry, whilst fast-tracking their research career.
A career springboard
“Graduates often use a KTP as a springboard for opening up an array of future post-project opportunities. It also provides influential positions in real-world commercial environments, and the kind of hands-on leadership experience and tangible results that prospective employers demand.”
Insects form an essential part of the diet of more than 2 billion people in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Although a niche market in the UK, over 1,000 species of insects are known to be eaten in 80% of the world’s nations. Insects provide many health benefits due to their high quality protein, vitamin and mineral content. Breeding commonly eaten insects also causes a much lower carbon footprint than conventional livestock species.
Jo Wise, Director of Monkfield, added: “We are extremely excited about working alongside the great team at Nottingham, and are confident that this will be a huge step forward for our Monkfield. We are looking to build up our strategies for our long-term growth plans as we look to explore potential new future markets for insects, especially in human consumption and livestock feed.”
The KTP grant, awarded by Innovate UK, will allow a team of researchers from the University and Monkfield Nutrition to look into improving the efficiency of insect production and to investigate how the nutritional quality can be manipulated to suit specific markets. Insects show a lot of promise for human consumption and as nutritional supplements for livestock – in particular, the rapidly expanding aquaculture industry.
Professor Andy Salter, Head of Nutritional Sciences and Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry at Nottingham is leading on the project. He commented: “There is great potential to apply our existing knowledge of the nutritional needs of conventional livestock to insects, in a systematic way that has not been done before.”
Anyone who is interested in applying for the role of KTP Research Associate in Insect Nutrition and Production should visit the University website or email firstname.lastname@example.org
More information is available from Nick King, Marketing Projects Manager, University of Nottingham, or Samir Mamun, Marketing Intern on +44 (0)115 82 32184.
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with campuses in China and Malaysia modelled on a headquarters that is among the most attractive in Britain’ (Times Good University Guide 2014). It is also the most popular university in the UK among graduate employers, one of the world’s greenest universities, and winner of the Times Higher Education Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development’. It is ranked in the World’s Top 75 universities by the QS World University Rankings