Below is our recent interview with Fotis Fotiadis, CEO & Founder of Better Origin.
Q: Better Origin was founded in 2015, could you tell us Better Origin story?
A: I was working in the Oil & Gas industry before deciding to work on something more connected to sustainability. I went to do a Masters degree in Sustainable Engineering at Cambridge University. I met my co-founder – Miha Pipan, during one of the business competitions organised by the university.
We were tasked with solving the problem of food waste. The idea of insects came to mind and has since transformed into the business behind the world’s first AI insect farm.
In 2020, we launched our product – the X1. It requires minimal human effort and takes care of the problem of both food waste generated on a farm and the need to feed the animals sustainably, without compromising productivity.
Q: Tell us something more about your AI-powered insect mini-farms?
A: The way it works is pretty simple: a farmer adds food waste — gathered from nearby factories or from the farm — which is processed into liquid feed for the larvae. The larvae are then harvested and fed to chickens.
Rather than making the farmers learn how to grow insects, we make it as automated as possible through our AI and an app-based user interface. The AI tracks the insects’ growth and feeding cycles using thermal cameras. All the farmer needs to do is keep the module plugged in and supply it with waste.
Q: What were the main challenges you faced in developing these AI-powered insect mini-farms?
A: The biggest challenge was to use technology to replicate how waste is repurposed in nature – usually either absorbed by soil or eaten by insects who then become a delicious source of protein.
The second challenge was to automate as much of the process as possible so that everything the farmer would normally have to do – like calculating optimal feed levels – the system would do for him.
Back in 2015, there was no accessible way for food producers to turn waste into useable feed – we’re now delivering a solution to this global problem.
Q: You’ve recently raised $3 Million in seed funding; can you tell us something more?
A: The round was led by a Berlin-based VC firm called Fly Ventures and the funding is a great stepping stone for us and shows how much potential there is in the sector.
Q: What can we expect from Better Origin in the next 12 months?
A: We’re really excited about this next stage of the business. The recent funding will allow us to drive the technology forward and implement more mini-farms in the UK and beyond.