5 January 2017

Environmental Biology student leads winning team to scoop £1000 entrepreneurship prize to develop an insect protein based burger.

Josh Ackroyd first came across edible insects during a visit to the Natural History Museum.

“I learnt they had nutritional and sustainability benefits”, said Josh, who is in the fourth year of an Environmental Biology MSci at Lancaster University.

“I discovered a gap in the market after struggling to find edible insects available to purchase in the UK,” said Josh, who works part time for Green Lancaster alongside his degree, running volunteer days and organising all the sustainable cooking and eating events. 

So Josh decided to enter the Social Storm competition, run by Lancaster University Enterprise Centre, which asked Lancaster students to come up with business ideas around the problems of food security or sustainable housing.

“Individual students first presented their general ideas. From this, the most popular ideas were taken forward in groups of six or seven students from a range of courses.”

Josh’s idea of creating an insect based food company was one of those chosen by his fellow students, and he was given a group to help him develop his vision into a concrete business model.

“We had 24 hours in which to develop the idea into a product or service before we presented to a panel of judges who were experts on enterprise.

“My team aimed to create a product that could be easily made on campus and that people would find familiar. Our concept was to slowly make people comfortable with eating insects by incorporating them into familiar food products. Our original idea was for insect ‘snack bars’ but, after feedback from the judges saying that our product should be a meat substitute we opted for burgers instead.”

The judges picked Josh’s idea as the winner, awarding his team £1000 to take it forward.

“The £1000 will be spent on creating our first batch of insect burgers and creating a brand identity - a logo etc. 

“We will start small, selling the burgers at the University farmer’s market and eventually expand to other campuses and online, scaling up to have a real far-reaching impact. We aim to have the burgers developed for sale by the end of Lent term.

“So keep a look out for some tasty critters! We’re still not 100% decided on the name so if anyone has any suggestions let us know…. The BugMac?”

The competition has whetted Josh’ appetite for more than bug burgers.

“It has definitely opened my eyes to how transferable skills learnt in a Lancaster Environment Centre degree are to a business setting. I am even thinking about creating my own start-up after graduation – an edible insect catering van.”

 Other students on Josh’s winning team were:  Alvaro Trujillo Olaiz, George Levy, Thoung Hoai, Timmy Lee, Zaynab Obanigba and Rachel Colligan.

To learn more about how extra curricular activities can help your career prospects, and how to progress once you leave, see Beyond LEC.