Better Origin, a Cambridge-based agtech startup, announced that it has raised $16M (approximately €14.6M) in a Series A round of funding led by Balderton Capital. Existing investors Fly Ventures and Metavallon VC also participated. The latest funding round takes the total amount raised by the company to $19M (approx €17.4M).
The funding will enable Better Origin to expand its team in areas such as engineering, biology, marketing, and operations. The company will also use the funds to accelerate product and technology development.
Better Origin, which specialises in poultry, plans to expand into new livestock areas and, eventually, human food in the upcoming months.
“Beyond enabling us to scale up operations and expand our team, the deep understanding and expertise that Balderton brings make it the perfect Series A partner,” says Fotis Fotiadis, co-founder and CEO of Better Origin.
“It was of vital importance when raising our Series A, as it was when we raised our Seed, to find partners that truly believe in our mission and ambition. We’re thrilled that Balderton, alongside Fly Ventures and Metavallon VC, are with us as we take this next stage for our company, for our partners, and for our planet,” he adds.
Solving a major global problem
The UK company has developed a solution to one of the world’s biggest problems – how to feed a growing population securely and sustainably.
To address the issues, Better Origin, founded by Fotis Fotiadis and Miha Pipan, has created decentralised AI-powered insect mini-farms inspired by the waste cycles found in nature.
Through partnerships with supermarkets, the company leverages AI and automation to convert local food waste into high-quality animal feed.
The container insect farm called X1 can recreate the conditions found in nature where food is eaten by insects and upcycled into essential nutrients for other animals to grow.
AI and automation are used to create the optimal environment for this cycle to flourish. Better Origin produces black soldier fly larvae, which can be fed to farm animals.
Each container can help feed 32,000 free-range hens and tackle 150 tonnes of food waste a year. The company’s plug-and-play mini-farms tackle this problem from within the food chain itself.
“The food chain is fundamentally broken and it’s putting the future of our food security at risk,” says CSO and co-founder Miha Pipan.
He adds, “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.”
Producing feed on site
Better Origin says by producing feed on-site, the container farm can produce the same amount of feed produced on 1500sqm soy plantations in just 1sqm.
By using food waste as raw material, the platform is reducing food waste, cutting farmers’ feed costs, and offering quality products for animals.
According to the UK company, this model can be applied to any food anywhere in the world. However, the startup has decided to focus first on the poultry sector.
The company has signed a deal to supply 10 insect mini-farms to feed chickens at Morrisons UK free-range egg farms.
“The deal is set to save 5,737 tonnes of CO2-eq emissions per year – an equivalent of taking 1,240 cars off the road – while also mitigating 1,500 tonnes of food waste,” says the company.
In addition to tackling the scourge of food waste, Better Origin’s decentralised approach helps revive local food supply chains as well.
Balderton Capital is a venture firm focused on backing the best European-founded technology companies. Since its founding, Balderton has worked with hundreds of founders and raised $4.5B across ten funds to support businesses at both early and growth stages.
“Fotis, Miha, 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, the pandemic, political tensions, and our growing population have demonstrated time and 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.”