YPC Technologies announced today that it has raised $1.8 million dollars CAD (~$1.36 million USD) for its robotic cooking kiosk. The round was co-led by Hike Ventures and returning investor Real Ventures, with participation from Toyota AI Ventures, Uphill Capital, and multiple angel investors.
Like others in the food robot space, YPC is building a standalone, autonomous cooking system. But unlike PAZZI, which makes pizza, or DaVinci Kitchen, which makes pasta, or even Flippy, which works a grill or fry station, YPC aims to build a more versatile cooking robot, one that can make up to 20 different types of meals.
“Our business is unique because our system can produce a large variety of meals,” Dr. Gunnar Grass, CEO and Co-founder, YPC Technologies told me by phone this week, listing “Soups, stews, beef bourguignon, rissotto, steamed asparagus” as a sample of what the YPC robot can make.
This desire for variety was borne out of Grass’ time working in in the kitchen of a retirement home. The kitchen made one type of dish per day and Grass saw many plates come back partially eaten or completely untouched, because residents didn’t like the food or couldn’t eat it because of dietary restrictions (or because they lacked teeth).
YPC has been testing its robot out at a co-working facility in Montreal, Canada over the past year. The articulating arm grabs ingredients and does the cooking and can make anywhere from half a dozen to 20 different types of meals, depending on how it’s stocked. The current version of the robot can make 30 meals in an hour, though Grass said the next version will be able to make 100 meals per hour.
Grass said that the company is targeting business customers such as retirement centers, hospitals and commercial high-rises for installations of its robot. The system does not require additional ventilation be built, which could make the decision to install one a little easier for potential locations.
Of course, another appeal of the YPC system is that it’s a robot that can work all day and removes one human (and possible vector of viral transmission) from the meal prep equation. YPC isn’t completely human-less, since people are still required to stock and final presentations, but reducing the number of human hands preparing and touching food has becoming increasingly important during this pandemic. And this type of hygiene is top of mind for the potential customers YPC is dealing with. “Right now, everyone cares about safety,” Grass said.
As we said earlier, YPC’s robot is unique in the restaurant world. Grass said with the new funding, his company hopes to have a production pilot up and running with an unnamed “multi-national” food company by the middle of next year.