May 26, 2022

Take a shipping container, add a chunk of AI and a boatload of black soldier flies, pile up a tiny mountain of food waste, scatter a $16 million investment led by Balderton Capital, and invite the Michelin reviewers because om yum, you’ve found a delicious recipe called Better Origin. The company uses “mini-farms” that turn expired fruits and vegetables into tasty morsels that can be used as animal feed.

“I am an engineer and have just retired from the oil and gas industry. I did a master’s degree in sustainable engineering from Cambridge hoping to do something similar. I always thought I would dedicate my life to something. I like to do something meaningful, effective and meaningful. That year, I participated in several competitions in entrepreneurship, especially in sustainability. There I met my co-founder, a biologist. They gave us a problem: food waste and came up with the best way to deal with it,” said Fotis Fotiadis, CEO and co-founder of Better Origin. “We started this five years ago. Things have evolved a lot with the purpose and mission of the company as a whole. I believe our generation has one of the biggest challenges ahead of us: How can we produce food to feed the population in a sustainable and safe way? One of the biggest challenges in achieving this is globalization. And by that I mean we have a global food chain that is structurally broken because it is not sustainable.”

The company explains that in the supermarket you can choose any product, and there are very few local products.

“Even what we consider local is not,” Fotiadis laments. “Most of the seeds fed to chickens come from South America. This creates two big problems: you have to transport things very long distances, which is very bad for the environment.

Against the backdrop of a world in which US President Biden suggests we are dealing with food shortages as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it is becoming abundantly clear that food supplies are not as flexible as they should be. Better Origin believes it has at least part of the solution.

“we Localize the food supply chain, and for that we need a new ingredient. We believe that this new ingredient is the use of food waste. Food waste is everywhere; It is local and contains many hidden nutrients. Our technology can absorb any type of waste and turn it into food,” Fotiadis explains. “We have built automated plants in shipping containers. You put food waste at one end and feed it to insects. Insects grow and you feed these insects to animals. Since these systems are housed in shipping containers, they can be deployed throughout the supply chain.”

In short, the company’s idea is to move the production of animal feed to farms that consume food. This reduces feed costs and emissions while increasing farmer productivity. The $16 million funding round has been led by experienced UK investor Balderton Capital and will be used to help the company grow its team and expand internationally. Existing investors Fly Ventures and Metavalon VC also took part.

With decentralized AI-powered insect farms, Better Origin is extracting local food waste from supermarkets and turning it into high-quality, sustainable pet food. Insect container farms mimic the conditions of nature, where food is consumed by insects and processed into nutrients needed for other animals to grow. Using artificial intelligence and automation to create the optimal environment for this cycle to thrive, Better Origin produces black lion fly larvae that can be fed to farm animals. Cameras, computer vision and sensors monitor conditions on each mini-farm to ensure they are optimal for production.

In December, Better Origin signed an agreement to supply 10 mini insect farms to feed chickens to the egg farms of British supermarket giant Morrison. The company estimates that it plans to produce 5,700 tons of CO2. save2 emissions per year.

“Fotis, Micha [Pipan, CSO] And the Better Origins team is working to fundamentally transform our broken food chain for the benefit of all,” said Suranga Chandratilek, general partner at Balderton Capital. “Climate change, pandemics, political tensions and a growing population have repeatedly shown how vulnerable our current system is. They also showed that agriculture exacerbates the problems we currently face and the solutions we have so far do not require a complete transformation. Better Origin offers a new perspective that we believe can have a transformative impact on food and agricultural systems.

The company currently has five mini-farms, but plans to grow rapidly next year.

“Hopefully, if things go according to plan, we will have 20 in the next few months,” suggests Fotiadis highlights the company’s commitment to growth.

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