AI-powered foodtech startup Better Origin has raised $16m (£12.2m) in a Series A funding round for its sustainable animal food technology.
The funding round was led by Balderton Capital, with existing investors Fly Ventures and Metavallon VC also participating.
The Cambridge-based startup, in an effort to make food supplies more sustainable, has created decentralised mini-farms for insects, which are designed to convert food waste from supermarkets into animal feed.
Better Origin’s insect farms recreate the natural process of upcycling waste food into black soldier fly larvae, which can then be added to farm animal feed to provide essential nutrients.
The insect farms are housed inside converted shipping containers and use AI to run the process autonomously, including feeding and inspections.
The shipping containers are located on farms to avoid shipping animal feed over long distances. This, says Better Origins, is better for the environment and a more secure option for the global food supply chain.
The UN estimates that more than a third of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the production, processing, and packaging of food. A third of this goes to waste annually anyway, with the UK alone wasting an estimated 4.5 million tonnes of food a year.
“The food chain is fundamentally broken and it’s putting the future of our food security at risk,” said CSO and founder of Better Origin, Miha Pipan.
“We’ve built a solution that aims to finally fix these flaws from the inside out. Insect larvae are nature’s mechanism to convert waste back into essential nutrients in the food chain.
“We believe our solution is the future of food production and the latest round of funding takes us a step closer to this future.”
Suranga Chandratillake, general partner at Balderton Capital, said: “The Better Origin team are working to fundamentally change our broken food chain, for the benefit of everyone.”
Chandratillake added: “Climate change, the pandemic, political tensions, and our growing population have demonstrated time and again how fragile our current systems are. Better Origin presents a new approach, and we believe it can have a transformational effect on food and farming systems.”