Investment

Deal of the Week: Green-minded family offices support food waste startup

Three family investment groups that invest in green technology and impact-led enterprises have funded a tech group that seeks to eradicate food waste globally.

With losses from global food waste totalling $2.6 trillion a year, Mori, (previously known as Cambridge Crops), plans “to recapture that lost value and decrease the amount of food going to waste.” 

By extracting a silk protein from water, Mori has created a protective, non-toxic barrier for use on a wide range of food items, enabling products to stay fresher for longer. With its technology able to be integrated from “farm to shelf”, Mori is offering the chance of improved shelf life and reduced waste for food across the supply chain.

The Boston-based company raised the $12 million Series A funding round from nine investors. Prelude Ventures, an investment group founded on clean investment principles by Nat Simons and his wife Laura Baxter-Simons, was one of the backers. Nat Simons is a serial impact investor and son of renowned hedge fund manager, Jim Simons, a code breaker in the Cold War, whose firm, Renaissance Technologies, pioneered the use of AI in asset management.

The Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust also joined the round. Started in 1997 by Jeremy Grantham of asset manager Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo, (GMO) and his wife Hannelore. Grantham is a well-known campaigner for environmental issues which have informed his investment viewpoint for years. As of 2019, his trust pledged more than $30 million a year into green technology and associated scientific research.

The Fink Family Foundation also helped Mori reach its funding milestone. Founded by Jesse and Betsy Fink, it is a supporter and investor in “innovations and pilots at the intersections of the environment and food systems.” Jesse Fink is chief executive of Marshall Street Management, a family office he started in 1999. He also co-founded Priceline, an online travel site that went public the same year. 

Entering the market at the height of the dot.com boom and valued at $96 a share, Priceline was Fink’s moneymaker. Following its float, the company merged with Booking.com and Active Holdings to create Booking Holdings, now valued at more than $70 billion. Following his success at Priceline, Fink was able to focus on investing in sustainable and environmentally friendly initiatives.

Mori plans to use the funding to expand its manufacturing processes and develop commercial partnerships across the food sector.

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