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Kitchen robotics startup Karakuri appoints administrators

Karakuri, maker of automated fryers, has appointed adminstrators
Image credit: Karakuri

Robotic kitchen automation startup Karakuri has appointed administrators after failing to secure further capital, putting 30 jobs at risk and highlighting the challenging funding environment for startups.

The London-based company has developed a robotic arm that serves personalised sushi dishes, and an automated fryer for chips.

A Karakuri spokesperson told UKTN a “rescue deal is unlikely” and the company was working with advisors to wind down the company on Monday.

The London-based startup has raised more than £13.5m in funding, including Ocado acquiring a near-20% stake in the business for £4.75m and a grant from Innovate UK.

It was founded by Barney Wragg, who is Karakuri’s CEO, in 2018. The startup had been targeting the quick commerce market, and completed a trial of its automated chip fryer with restaurant chain Nando’s in March.

Sky News, which broke the story, reported that Karakuri has been working with accountancy firm RSM “for some time” and was the likely administrator.

In a statement, Karakuri said: “After extensive negotiations with potential investors and acquirers to explore all possible options for the business, we’re sorry to report that Karakuri has been unable to secure the funding required to continue our developments and bring our products to market.”

The company said on Monday that it is “working with external advisors on the next steps”.

In February, Wragg told the UKTN Podcast that “2023 is the year of maturity for Karakuri and also for the wider restaurant robotics industry”.

Karakuri’s collapse underscores the challenging funding environment, with UK tech investment falling by 57% year-on-year during the first half of 2023.

It also demonstrates the difficulty of bringing deeptech startups to market.

“We’d like to thank all of those who have supported us on our journey, our investors, customers, suppliers, and most importantly our incredible team,” Karakuri added.

“Our priority is now to help the team members find new roles. We’ll publish a list of the talented people who make up Karakuri and their skills via LinkedIn shortly.”