Jun 26, 2019

EVO Conversion Systems Earns BVEDC Launch Award at 2019 Bryan Rotary Club Awards

Steve Fullhart

EVO Conversion Systems, LLC in College Station has been honored with the Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation’s Launch Award as part of the 2019 Bryan Rotary Club Business Performance Awards, held Wednesday, June 26.

Now in its second year, the Launch Award honors an independent, privately-held corporation, proprietorship or partnership headquartered in Brazos County in existence less than five years.

As the human population grows, so too does the organic waste it creates. A significant amount of the world’s food will end up in landfills from which greenhouse gases emit and pollutants get into water and soil. EVO aims to reduce the waste, and has enlisted the help of an army of assistants: black soldier flies.

“We really found ourselves at the right place at the right time because within the past five years, the industry has developed globally to a point where our services were required to train and advise companies on this production system,” said EVO Conversion Systems Director Dr. Jeffery Tomberlin. “In the end, we are a local business with a global impact.”

The larvae of Hermetia illucens can consume almost any organic waste. Instead of going to landfills, the material is converted into biomass as protein and fat by the larvae. After the waste is digested, what is left can be used as an effective fertilizer for crops and gardens. Then, the fly larvae can be used as a supplement for many farm-raised animals.

Texas A&M University Department of Entomology researchers Tomberlin, Jonathan Cammack and Spring Yang have spent years researching the black soldier fly. They developed a process to maximize the efficiency of the waste conversion process. A&M has licensed this technology to EVO, which was founded in 2017. Currently with six employees including Tomberlin, Cammack and Yang, EVO is located near Easterwood Airport, and has expanded from 1,000 to more than 3,000 square feet, with an aim to find a bigger location locally. From the Brazos Valley, EVO has clients across the United States and in eight other countries.

On a global scale, EVO is partnered with the JMGreen company in China to build facilities capable of handling 60 tons of food waste per day. JM Green focuses on engineering and industrialization. EVO focuses on biology and the flies’ optimization. On a local scale, EVO prides itself on having zero waste. It uses waste water from Blackwater Draw Brewing Company and the Rio Brazos Distillery. Insect protein is sold as feed for chickens and reptiles. The compost goes to Cosmic Landscaping for fertilizer.

The company also credits partnerships with the A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Engineering’s NSF I-Corp program, TEES’s Clean Energy Incubator and the Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation as supporting players in EVO’s efforts to significantly reduce the world’s waste.

“The BVEDC is proud to recognize EVO Conversion Systems with the Launch Award in 2019,” said Matt Prochaska, BVEDC’s president/CEO. “The innovative work being done by this emerging local company is on track to have a significant impact on the world, and we look forward to seeing even more great things from their team.” 

In determining the annual Launch Award winner, the BVEDC recognizes a company’s scale of operations since startup toward second-stage growth. The company must have demonstrated distinguished industry achievement of technology products and service that validates its potential. The company must have improved or transformed the region’s marketplace in target industry sectors, including advanced manufacturing, agricultural sciences, biotech, engineering, R&D and professional services.

The 2018 Launch Award winner was G-CON Manufacturing, which the BVEDC featured in its "Made in the Brazos Valley" series.

Each year, the Bryan Rotary Club honors the ten fastest growing firms in Brazos County. In addition to the BVEDC’s Launch Award, the ANCO Lifetime Achievement Award is also given during the event.