- Posted by Metavallon VC Team
- On June 9, 2020
Better Origin has a crystal clear vision: to tackle food waste build a global network of interconnected systems converting waste nutrients into essential nutrients. As a first step, the company is creating a circular onsite system in farms to redefine how they use waste to feed their livestock.
Use farm and agriculture waste, biotech processing through insect bioconversion, engineering through a proprietary designed autonomous insect mini-farm housed in a shipping container and own technology developed to model and replicate results to create a fully sustainable solution and diminishes waste. Why do that? Because in addition to environmental and health&welfare benefits, there will be significant direct and measurable economic and productivity benefits.
When we invested in Better Origin last year, using black soldier flies as a natural feed was still a science problem. At the time the biotech was unproven, lab trials were still ongoing and sure enough there was a science risk into the results that would be produced. Within 2019, extensive methods and the lab results in collaboration with top UK Universities are astounding: health and welfare metrics are off the roof. Eating better, chickens are happier and healthier; in turn healthier chickens also make for more productive chickens, which directly translates into measurable benefits for the farm operator and owner.
Science proven, the problem now became an engineering one: design and deploy a system that works. This is where Better Origin flipped the coin and took a 180 degree turn from the conventional approach of startups in the sector. It said no to mega factories and the mainstream solution of producing at scale and distributing. February 2020 saw the first time that a stand-alone “mini factory” unit was deployed in a farm, creating a sustainable, circular system by itself. The first Better Origin system was trucked to a Cambridgeshire farm and deployed onsite a laying chicken facility a few weeks ago and is now fully operational. Within 2020, several more systems are getting deployed around the UK. In its full deployment, the Better Origin solution will be using black soldier flies to naturally process farm food waste and transform it to protein rich, natural food for laying chickens.
Science and engineering stack aspects delivered, the problem now transforms to a technology one and this is where the solution in addition to interesting, also becomes scalable. By reiterating with its design partners, Better Origin is now working on a simple operating pane that the farmer can use with ease. Using computer vision to model and predict insect growth and movement allows for autonomous feeding decisions and easy expansion into several onsite mini-factories, regardless of the waste input. And this is the beauty of Better Origin: that it is a modular, system that at scale can be used by anyone. It empowers farmers and gives them control as opposed to creating black boxes and positions the company as an indispensable technology provider.
As COVID-19 changes all our lives, a few trends begin to emerge as the new normal. The way we work, interact, travel and experience leisure will not be the same. Online education and digitization of all is being sped up. Localization and autonomy become key. To the later points, Better Origin’s solution has never been more timely.