From larva to larder as Cambridge tech fights food waste scandal
A Cambridge startup that has created an AI-powered insect mini-farm to revolutionise the food industry is set to exploit a UK market worth £1 billion and a £130bn global opportunity.
Better Origin – formerly Entomics – is close to finalising a late-seed funding round and is open to talks with AgriTech, AI and FoodTech investors.
Using AI and insects, Better Origin has launched the X1 – the world’s first ever insect mini-farm to convert local waste into high-quality animal feed in the form of insect larvae; these can then be fed to livestock, improving welfare, productivity and yield.
The company says it is solving both the global food waste crisis and producing better quality food for consumers through the bio-conversion technology.
The X1 is a self-contained, insect mini-farm which uses AI together with patented engineering processes to replicate nature’s recycling system. The app-based user interface means the farmer always knows exactly what is going on inside at any given time.
Fotis Fotiadis, CEO and co-founder of Better Origin, says: “Until now there was no accessible way for food producers to turn abundant feedstock or food waste, into useable food. We’re now delivering a vital solution to this global opportunity.
“In nature, insects convert waste into essential nutrients for animals and humans in a complete ‘no-waste’ cycle but this link is absent from the modern food chain.
“Our technology uses natural processes to fix the broken food system, restoring insects as the missing link in the modern food chain.
“We’ve created the future of sustainable food production that will bring about a new harmony between nature and technology – and, by so doing, transform livestock productivity and welfare and, at the same time, reduce carbon emissions and ensure global food security.”
Earlier this year, the X1 completed a successful pilot project on Wood Farm in Cambridgeshire and is now poised to collaborate with farmers to support happier, healthier hens on farms across the UK.
Charles Mear, owner of Wood Farm, said: “We love the ethos and concept of Better Origin, which fits well with what we are trying to achieve here at Wood Farm, producing a carbon neutral free-range egg. The health and wellbeing of my hens is of utmost importance to me.”
Better Origin’s first route to market with layer hens has strong growth potential. The business also has plans to market the X1 for the salmon farming and pet foods sectors.
The scale of the broader opportunity is immense: By 2050 global food supply will need to increase by 70 per cent to cope with demand, food waste accounts for 11 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions whilst in the UK, a third of all food is wasted. Increasing pressure on land-use also means that farmers need to produce more with less.