Bug food for cats and navigating oceans: News from the College | Imperial News | Imperial College London

The founders of Tomojo pet food company

Here’s a batch of fresh news and announcements from across Imperial.

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From a new alumni startup creating cat food from insect protein, to a new project to improve the precision of maritime navigation, here is some quick-read news from across the College. 

Feline feast

Two Imperial alumni have created the world’s first insect-based pet food for cats. Madeleine Morley and Paola Teulières both completed master’s degrees in the Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial before setting up a sustainable pet food company in France. They launched Tomojo pet food company in 2017 and fed French dogs with 10 tonnes of insect food in 2019, before expanding their range to cats this year.

Insects are considered a more environmentally friendly alternative to meat, as they use less energy, less space, and less water to produce the same amount of protein as animals like cows or chickens. The new cat food mixes plant-based powder with ground insect flour to make dough, which is extruded and then cut into kibbles.

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Read more at Pet Business World

New wildlife threats 

Drying sea cucumbersWildlife in Central America are under increased threat from illegal trade, according to a new Imperial-led paper. The team identify emerging trends in the region that could lead to it facing the same problems as Asia and Africa, causing the devastation of many species while undermining local livelihoods, weakening the rule of law, and exacerbating corruption and organized crime.

Wildlife now targeted by traffickers in the region include those not previously trafficked (such as sea cucumbers and glass eels) and an increasing volume of those already subject to trafficking (for example parrots and rosewood). Increased international connectivity and digital innovations are giving traffickers a larger market reach, but are also allowing better local surveillance and law enforcement, while facilitating public communication of the problems.

Read more from the Wildlife Conservation Society or read the full paper in Oryx: Emerging trends of the illegal wildlife trade in Mesoamerica.

Navigating oceans

An image of a compass and map with pins in itAn Imperial-led research project to improve the precision of maritime navigation has been awarded £600,000 of funding by the University of Birmingham’s UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing 

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The project, led by Imperial’s Professor Tom Pike, aims to adapt an existing navigation instrument that uses satellite navigation into one that also uses gravity fields. This will allow the instrument to navigate using both techniques.

Professor Pike said: “This grant will help us transfer the technology we developed for Mars back to Earth, or more specifically onto our oceans. We know we have the robustness to survive a trip to another planet. Now we want to show we have the sensitivity to detect gravitational changes while rocking on a ship. It’s more of a challenge than detecting marsquakes!”


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