Off the back of its pre-seed venture funding in January this year, AI-powered upcycling startup Upp has secured a further £800,000 in the form of a government grant.
Founded in Shropshire in 2022, Upp has developed a new form of agricultural technology, armed with 3D cameras and machine learning, to efficiently harvest broccoli crops with minimal waste.
However, that is just part of the Upp process, which also collects any waste produced in the harvesting process for the purpose of upcycling it into sustainable proteins.
At the beginning of the year, Upp raised £500,000 in a funding round from Elbow Beach Capital and five months later, the startup has been awarded the government funding, as part of a consortium of agritech researchers and engineers.
The grant is from the Department of Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
“The global demand for plant proteins is growing significantly, driven by a strong consumer demand for healthier nutrition and sustainable food,” said UPP co-founder and CEO David Whitewood.
“Broccoli ‘waste’ is just as nutritious and healthy as the broccoli heads we buy at the supermarket; this project aims to ensure that broccoli is no longer ‘growing to waste’.”
The winning consortium also included the James Hutton Institute, a Scottish agricultural and landscape research group.
“There is compelling evidence that eating brassicas like broccoli is associated with a reduced risk of the major degenerative disease,” said Prof Derek Stewart, director of the Advanced Plant Growth Centre at the James Hutton Institute.
“With healthy plant proteins easily within reach, we should ask ourselves why we are not eating more and why are we leaving so much biomass to rot in the field.