AI pioneer Winnow raises a combined $20m to lead the global fight against food waste

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Tech company Winnow announces $12m Series B round led by Ingka Group and Mustard Seed: the company’s largest raise to date. This follows a recent $8m loan from The European Investment Bank (EIB). Combined, this means Winnow has raised a total of $20m in the last month to enable expansion within the hospitality industry across global markets. 

Winnow, the technology company behind Winnow Vision, the artificial intelligence tool helping chefs cut food waste in half, is announcing the completion of its series B round of funding at a total of $12m. This follows a recent $8m loan from The European Investment Bank (EIB), with the help of the Juncker Plan, which focuses on boosting investment to generate jobs and growth.

Headquartered in London, Winnow started in England in 2013, and has since been adopted by more than 1,000 sites globally with global clients ranging from ISS, through to Marriott Hotels in Dubai. With London fast becoming a major hub for AI development, following a $1bn deal between Government and industry in 2018, the company has grown significantly since the launch of its latest AI product, Winnow Vision.

Winnow Vision, the most advanced food waste technology on the market, has been developed to automate waste tracking, enabling chefs to run more profitable and sustainable kitchens. With global clients already adopting Winnow Vision, from IKEA stores through to the Armani Hotel in Dubai, the demand by companies to drive down food waste in 2019 is increasing. Kitchens using Winnow tend to see a 40-70% reduction in food waste within 6-12 months, driving food cost savings between 2-8% in total, which improves profit margins whilst doing the right thing.

The series B round included high-profile investment from Ingka Group, a strategic partner to the IKEA franchisee system, Mustard Seed, Circularity Capital, D-Ax and The Ingenious Group. Winnow co-founder and CEO Marc Zornes says, “We are very excited about driving the business forward in our global fight against food waste and we are grateful for the continuous support of our investors. This year, we launched our ground-breaking AI product Winnow Vision, and chefs using Winnow around the world are saving $33m worth of food from going to waste annually. We have set a target to save our customers $1bn of food waste by 2025, and this investment will accelerate our technology development and business development approach to help achieve this ambition.”

Launched in a single staff restaurant in 2013, Winnow has been adopted by more than 1,000 sites globally, and is now operating in 40 countries with offices in London, Dubai, Singapore, Shanghai, Cluj-Napoca and Iowa City. In 2019, The Financial Times ranked the company as the 78th fastest of Europe’s Fastest Growing Companies.

Winnow Vision works by taking photos of wasted food as it’s thrown away, and uses the images to train itself to recognise what has been discarded. Winnow’s systems have already reached and surpassed human levels of accuracy in identifying wasted foods. This means for clients, over time, these systems will enable their kitchens to automatically register food waste without any human interaction. Food will be thrown in the bin and the data will be captured automatically.

Investor Commentary

Leading the round, Henry Wigan, Director at Mustard Seed stated, ‘We are privileged to be leading another Winnow round. Right from the very start, we have been deeply committed to Winnow’s impact mission, which is intricately aligned with the Mustard Seed Lock-Step thesis that solving big social and environmental problems drives commercial success in the long run.  We look forward to seeing Winnow grow at pace.’

Krister Mattsson, Managing Director of Ingka Investments added, ‘Winnow has been a strong partner on our journey to reducing food waste in our IKEA stores by 50% by 2020. This investment supports growth and creates new opportunities to further accelerate the positive impact of food waste prevention. We are focused to increase the use of digital tools and analytics to both create the IKEA store of tomorrow and to deliver on IKEA’s sustainability ambition.’

Adding to this, Jamie Butterworth Partner of Circularity Capital noted, ‘We are delighted to have supported the funding round and maintain our strong relationship with Winnow. We believe strongly in the strength of their technology and its role in accelerating the transition to a circular economy’.

‘We believe in the market potential and the positive impact of Winnow’s product. With our strong presence in the food market and our commitment to building sustainable businesses, we are excited to continue our support to Marc, Kevin and the team going forward’, Joakim Skarborg, Chairman of D-Ax.

Final notes from Guy Ranawake, Senior Investment Director at Ingenious added, “We are very happy to support Winnow and look forward to seeing the growth of the company which aligns strongly with our investment strategy and sector focus, including resource efficiency.”

About Winnow 

Winnow is the technology company behind Winnow Vision, building artificial intelligence tools to help chefs run more profitable and sustainable kitchens by cutting food waste in half. Winnow believes that food is far too valuable to waste and that technology can transform the way food is used. For this reason Winnow’s mission is to help the hospitality industry tackle avoidable food waste by connecting the kitchen, empowering chefs to run a more efficient operation. 

About Ingka Group 

Ingka Group is one of 12 different groups of companies that operate IKEA retail under franchise agreements with Inter IKEA Systems B.V. Ingka Group has three business areas: IKEA Retail, Ingka Investments and Ingka Centres. Ingka Group is a strategic partner in the IKEA franchise system, operating 374 IKEA stores in 30 countries. These IKEA stores had 839 million visits during FY19 and 2.6 billion visits to Ingka Group operates business under the IKEA vision – to create a better everyday life for the many people by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible can afford it. 

About Mustard Seed Impact 

Mustard Seed seeks to enable the creation of world-class businesses that generate positive and sustainable outcomes. We connect a dynamic and influential network of global members with exceptional entrepreneurial talent across the world.  We believe that solving big social and environmental problems drives commercial success in the long run.

About Circularity Capital

Circularity Capital is a specialist private equity firm founded to deliver value for Investors from the opportunities created by The Circular Economy, with a focus on combining specialist expertise in the circular economy with institutional quality private equity experience.

About Ingenious 

Ingenious specialise in media, infrastructure, real estate and education and fund and manage investment opportunities through blending experience, sector knowledge and an extensive network of commercial relationships.

About D-Ax (Axel Johnson)

D-Ax  is Axel Johnson’s arm for investments in early-stage, fast-growing companies with significant potential. Axel Johnson, one of the oldest and largest trade and service companies in the Nordic region, is a long-term owner. This means that ambition is to own and partner with companies that, first and foremost, focus on building long-term, successful businesses.

About European Investment Bank

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the European Union’s bank. It is the long-term lending institution of the EU and is the only bank owned by and representing the interests of the European Union Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investments in order to contribute towards EU policy goals. The EIB works closely with other EU institutions to implement EU policy. As the world’s largest multilateral borrower and lender by volume, the EIB provides finance and expertise for sound and sustainable investment projects which contribute to furthering EU policy objectives. More than 90% of EIB activity is focused on Europe but the Bank also supports the EU’s external and development policies.

About the Investment Plan for Europe

The Investment Plan for Europe, known as the Juncker Plan, is one of the European Commission’s top priorities. It focuses on boosting investment to generate jobs and growth by making smarter use of new and existing financial resources, removing obstacles to investment, and providing visibility and technical assistance to investment projects.

The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) is the main pillar of the Juncker Plan and provides first loss guarantees, enabling the EIB to invest in more projects that often come with greater risks. The projects and agreements approved for financing under EFSI are expected to mobilise about EUR 433.2bn in investments including EUR 3bn in Romania, and support some 972,000 SMEs in the 28 EU countries.

More information on the results of the Investment Plan for Europe is available here.