Tech

Better Origin turns food waste into animal feed, with the help of insects – TechCrunch


Take a shipping container, add AI help and a boat full of black soldier flies, stack in a mountain of food waste, invest $16 million led by Balderton Capital and call for reviewers of Michelin, because om nom, you’ve got yourself a delicious dish called Better Origins. The company is using what it calls a “mini-farm” that turns expired fruits and vegetables into delicious flakes that can be used as animal feed.

“I am an engineer and I just left the oil and gas industry. I started my master’s degree in sustainable engineering at Cambridge, hoping that I would get into things like this. I always thought I would dedicate my life to something. I wanted to do something meaningful, impactful, and bring about change. That year, I participated in many competitions around entrepreneurship, especially on sustainability. That’s where I met my co-founder, a biologist. They presented us with a problem to solve: food waste and found smarter ways to dispose of it,” said Fotis Fotiadis, CEO and co-founder of Better Origin. “We started doing this five years ago. Things have evolved a lot and with the purpose and entire mission of the company. I believe our generation will have to tackle one of the biggest challenges as we go together, ‘how can we produce food to feed people in a sustainable and safe way? ?’ One of the biggest problems with getting there is globalization. And I mean we have a global food supply chain that has broken down structurally, because it’s unsustainable.”

The company points out that you can choose any product you want in the supermarket, and there are very few locally made products.

Fotiadis lamented: “Even what we thought was local is missing. “Most of the seeds fed to the chickens come from South America. So that causes two big problems: you need to transport things over long distances, which is very harmful to the environment. ”

In the context of a world with a President of the United States Biden is showing that we are facing food shortages due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it is very clear that the food supply cannot recover as it probably should. Better Origin believes it has at least part of the solution.

“We make the food supply chain local, and we need a new ingredient to do that. Our belief is to use food waste, as this new ingredient. Food waste is everywhere; it is local and has a lot of nutrients hidden in it. Our technology can take any type of waste and convert it into food,” explains Fotiadis. “We have built automated factories in shipping containers. You put food waste on one end and you feed the insects. Insects grow and you feed the animals those insects. Because these systems reside in shipping containers, they can be deployed in all sorts of parts of the supply chain.”

In short, the company’s premise is to shift feed production to farms that consume feed. This reduces the cost of feed consumption and emissions while increasing the productivity of farmers. $16 million funding round led by veteran UK investors The capital city of Balderton and will be used to help the company grow its team and scale internationally. Existing investors Fly Ventures and Metavallon VC also participated.

Through decentralized AI-powered insect mini-farms, Better Origin takes local food waste from supermarkets and turns it into sustainable, high-quality animal feed. Its containerized insect farms replicate the conditions found in nature, where insects ingest food and convert it into the nutrients needed by other animals to thrive. Using AI and automation to create the optimal environment for this cycle to thrive, Better Origin produces black soldier fly larvae that can be fed to farm animals. Cameras, computer vision and sensors monitor the conditions in each small farm to ensure they are optimal for production.

In December, Better Origin signed an agreement to supply 10 small insect farms to raise chickens at Morrisons supermarket’s giant egg farms in the UK. The company thinks it is on track to save 5,700 tons of CO2 emissions per year.

“Fotis, Miha [Pipan, CSO] and the Better Origin team are working to fundamentally change our broken food chain, for the benefit of everyone,” said Suranga Chandratillake, general partner at Balderton Capital. “Climate change, pandemics, political tensions and our growing population have repeatedly demonstrated how fragile our current systems are. They also showed how agriculture is currently exacerbating the challenges we face and the solutions so far have not resulted in the wholesale change we need. Better Origin takes a new approach and we believe it can have a transformative impact on food and farming systems.”

The company currently has 5 mini-farms in operation, but is planning to grow rapidly in the coming year.

“I hope that if one goes according to plan, we will have 20 orders in the next few months,” suggests. Fotiadis, outlines the company’s growth ambitions.



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