UK-based ag-tech start-up Better Origin has raised $16m to help expand its hyperlocal, automated and easily installed mini-insect farms.
The company has created decentralised mini-farms, which take local food waste from supermarkets and convert it into high quality, sustainable animal feed, removing the need to ship animal feed around the globe.
Insect larvae are nature’s mechanism to convert waste back into essential nutrients in the food chain
Its container insect farms recreated the conditions found in nature where food is eaten by insects and upcycled into essential nutrients for other animals to grow. Using AI and automation for the cycle to flourish, Better Origin produces Black Soldier Fly larvae to be fed to the farm’s animals.
The company says its container farm – known as the X1 – can produce the same amount of feed currently produced on 1,500 sq metre of soy plantation, in just 1sq metre.
The start-up signed a deal with Morrisons in December to supply 10 insect min-farms to feed chickens at Morrisons UK free-range egg farms. The deal is set to save 5,737 tonnes of CO2-equivalent emissions per year – an equivalent of taking 1,240 cars off the road, while also mitigating 1,500 tonnes of food waste. More partnerships are to be announced in due course.
Miha Pipan, Better Origin CSO and founder, said: “The food chain is fundamentally broken and it’s putting the future of our food security at risk. 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. They act as the missing link between waste and food. We reduce waste and increase food production by bringing back this link.
We believe our solution is the future of food production and the latest round of funding takes us a step closer to this future.
– Miha Pipan, Better Origin CSO and founder
The funding, raised through the Series A round, was supported by European venture capital firm Balderton with backing from existing investors Fly Ventures and Metavallon VC. It will be used to expand the team with the company looking to recruit in areas such as engineering, biology, marketing and operations.
Suranga Chandratillake, general partner at Balderton, said climate change, the pandemic, political tensions and the growing population have shown time and time again how fragile our current systems are.
“They’ve also shown how farming currently exacerbates the challenges we face and solutions so far are not leading to the wholesale change we need. Better Origin presents a new approach and we believe it can have a transformational effect on food and farming systems.”