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Ex-Qantas exec’s AI-powered blockchain-based start-up raises $28 million

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A former child slave who escaped the civil war in Somalia for a new life in Australia, where she started washing dishes for $5 an hour before becoming chief information officer at Qantas, has raised $28.3 million for her blockchain-based startup for food supply chains .

The round in Jamila Gordon’s Lumachain was led by US VC Bessemer Venture Partners as the company ramps up its US focus.

lumachain previously raised $3.5 million in 2019, in a round led by the CSIRO’s innovation fund, Main Sequence Ventures, which was initially launched 15 months.

The idea started off as a round-table conversation with friends in the meat processing industry and the lack of visibility in global meat supply chains, so there was no way to link an individual piece of meat back to the animal it came from.

Gordon had built the Qantas spare parts tracking system and decided she would address this issue as well by launching her startup in 2018. She looked at a range of technical solutions, including DNA, RFID and isotope analysis, but decided Computer Vision- based on artificial intelligence (AI), combined with blockchain, smart devices and IoT was the best solution.

The startup offers transparency in global supply chains, tracking and tracing the origin, location and condition of individual items in a delivery chainin real time, from farm to fork.

Gordon believes that tracking encourages farmers and manufacturers to make high-quality, ethically sourced products, reduce waste and increase efficiencies to improve revenues and margins. Food waste is estimated to be a $1.5 trillion problem by 2050.

lumachain was part of the first cohort of Microsoft’s scale-up program and established a research partnership with CSIRO to develop a track and trace solution for slaughterhouses, co-funded through the federal government’s Kick Start grant program.

That focus on meat has led the company to sign Andrews Meat, Coles and US giant Cargill to use Lumachain’s vision-based AI to manage food safety through traceability. The capital injection will be used to install that monitoring technology in U.S. meat and processing plants.

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