Insect protein provides a sustainable alternative to soy. Cambridge-based Better Origin has raised $3m to fund the development of its product X1, an AI enabled insect mini-farm.
X1 fits inside a shipping container and according to Better Origin, it is the world’s first autonomous insect mini-farm. It uses black soldier fly (BSF, Hermetia illucens) to convert waste biomass, such as food waste into insect biomass that is rich in proteins and fats. It has been tried and tested on chicken farms where the larvae are harvested and fed directly to chickens.
The black soldier fly (BSF, Hermetia illucens) is a species of fly present in most parts of the world, known for its voracious appetite and rapid growth, making it perfect for converting waste into high value protein.
The entire process is automated through AI – from delivery of the food waste through to monitoring of larvae growth, temperature, and humidity. When they are ready to harvest, the farmer is notified and the larvae can be fed to the hens.
Better Origin’s founder and CEO, Fotis Fotiadis, explains that the modular, distributed approach will accelerate adoption and remove barriers to entry for millions of farmers around the world.
“The agricultural industry has traditionally been reliant on unsustainable animal feeds such as soy, which is the leading contributor to deforestation around the world and travels for thousands of miles, generating high amounts of carbon emissions. And it does not stop there – it is estimated that 33% of arable land on the planet is used to produce livestock feed.
“Insect feed is an emerging alternative which offers a sustainable and natural feed solution for farmed animals, such as chickens and fish, with benefits that include increased productivity, better health, and higher welfare.”
The funding will accelerate Better Origin’s scaling operation and enable it to deploy more systems across the UK.
The project is backed by Fly Ventures, a Berlin-based VC firm that invests in deep technology and AI-driven venture start-ups.
Matt Wichrowski, who led Fly’s investment in Better Origin, comments: “We were blown away by the progress Fotis, Miha, and their team have made, and we believe in the sector’s potential to transform the food industry. We are delighted to back the team and support them over this next phase of growth.”
Better Origin’s vision is to help secure the future of food by offering an alternative protein that doesn’t cost the Earth. The company aims to upcycle upwards of 50,000 tonnes of organic waste and mitigate as much as 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year by 2023.