Brightseed, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to aid food companies in the discovery of new nutritional compounds in plants, announced today that it has raised $27 million in new funding. The round was led by Lewis & Clark AgriFood and brings the total amount raised by Brightseed to $52 million.
According to Brightseed, just 1 percent of the compounds produced by plants is known. Brightseed’s Forager AI tool looks at plants on a molecular level to reveal these hidden phytonutrient compounds (examples of phytonutrients include caffeine in coffee and antioxidants in blueberries). Once discovered, Forager adds it to its database as uses that information to make predictions about any implications those new phytonutrients may have for human health.
In June of this year, Brightseed announced a partnership with Danone, which owns Silk and So Delicious Dairy Free brands, to discover new health benefits of soy.
Brightseed is actually in the middle of three converging food tech trends right now. First, sales of plant-based food has surged during the pandemic, so the ability to mine plant-based resources to excavate new, additional nutrition benefits could help sustain that growth.
Second, Brightseed is part of a growing movement of using AI to model and predict unique attributes of food. Spoonshot is using AI to help companies create whole products via data before they even begin prototyping in the real world. And Climax Foods, which recently launched, is using data and AI to develop new plant-based foods, starting with cheese.
The idea with all these AI tools is to do a lot of the heavy lifting via algorithm before experimenting in the more costly real world lab setting. We’re still very early on in this trend, so it remains to be see how effective AI modeling really is.
Finally, Brightseed is part of the food-as-medicine movement, which has people paying more attention to the types of food they consume. In particular, Brightseed is looking at how phytonutrients it discovers can help with metabolic health, cognitive health, immune health, bone health.
Brightseed’s financial health is certainly robust with today’s announcement. The company will be using its new bulked up warchest to invest in R&D of its AI and commercialization of its plant-based discoveries in the food and beverage sectors.