How and what we eat in restaurants or on-the-go is changing thanks to new robotics start-up Karakuri and its £7m seed investment, led by Ocado. With growing demand for personalised nutrition as part of a healthy lifestyle, Karakuri uses the latest innovation in robotics, machine learning, optics and sensors to allow restaurants and food retailers to offer personalised, freshly prepared, high quality meals, which maximise nutritional benefits and minimise food waste.
Research shows that almost two-thirds of consumers globally follow a diet that limits or prohibits consumption of some foods or ingredients. Whether you have a food intolerance or are following a diet plan, Karakuri’s system personalises any meal using its robots to dispense the exact ingredients and quantities into that dish. For restaurants and food retailers, Karakuri’s technologies also represent a way to move away from mass pre-packaged meals and significantly reduce food waste.
The £7m seed fundraise is led by Ocado, and includes investments from Hoxton Ventures, firstminute capital and Taylor Brothers. The funding will be used to further develop the company’s technology, strengthen its IP base and expand its team for global growth.
The investment in Karakuri gives Ocado the opportunity to expand its value proposition in grocery, especially through Ocado Zoom, its new immediacy offer, and also provides their Ocado Solutions partners with innovative answers to the challenges of building a strong and profitable food delivery business. Ocado expects to take delivery of the first of Karakuri’s machines in late 2019.
Karakuri CEO and co-founder, Barney Wragg said, “At Karakuri, we are dedicated to providing smart new ways to create and prepare fresh personalised meals. Consumer eating habits in and out of the home are changing rapidly as demand increases for healthier options that match specific dietary requirements. This growth in menu personalisation is putting huge pressure on restaurants, cafes and other food retailers.
These providers have historically relied on identically mass-produced meals to maintain their profit margins. By using robotics and machine learning, Karakuri’s systems provide localised micro-manufacturing within an existing restaurant, retail or commercial kitchen. Our systems prepare personalised meals onsite in real time to the exact requirements of each customer. At the same time, our technology aims to minimise food waste, packaging and distribution costs and all of the associated environmental impact.”
Tim Steiner, CEO of Ocado said, “Ocado is constantly striving to identify the best and most innovative solutions to provide consumers with the greatest possible value, choice and convenience. Our investment in Karakuri, potentially a game-changer in the preparation of food-to-go, gives us the opportunity to bring the best innovation to the benefit of our own customers as well as our partners”.
Brent Hoberman, Karakuri’s founding chairman, co-founder of Founders Factory and General Partner at first minute Capital added, “The time is now for robotics and AI to drive change in the restaurant and food services business. Barney and Simon have assembled a world-class team to go after one the next large markets to be enhanced by this technology. We are delighted that Ocado, a global leader in robotics and distribution, has chosen to invest in Karakuri to lead the innovation in this sector.”
Karakuri emerges from the Founders Factory incubator with the goal of utilising ground breaking intelligent robotics, to transform how we eat for the better and reduce food waste. Co-founders Barney Wragg, Simon Watt and Brent Hoberman, are focussed on growing Karakuri into the segment-defining food automation providers. Karakuri’s advisory board includes industry experts from ARM, Ocado, Imperial College, Bristol Robotics Lab and Edinburgh Centre for Robotics.