Launched in April, Cultivate Next is designed to make investments into Series B-level companies that line up with Chipotle’s mission and growth plans.
“As a people-first company, Chipotle is seeking opportunities that will elevate the human experience for its teams as well as increase access and convenience for its guests. Investments may include innovations in farming and supply chain, advanced robotics like Hyphen, alternative proteins like Meati, and more,” the restuarant chain said in a news release Thursday (July 20).
The company says it wants to expand to 7,000 North American restaurants, and has begun testing its own autonomous project with Chippy, a kitchen assistant that uses artificial intelligence to make tortilla chips.
Chipotle Chief Technology Officer Curt Garner said the company sees its mission of using emerging tech to increase access to real food at work with Hyphen, which uses robotics to enhance the employee and guest experience.
Meati, meanwhile, is a Colorado-based company that makes “nutrient-dense whole-food products made from mushroom roots” that are grown indoors away from pollutants, pesticides, antibiotics or growth hormones.
“We are excited to support new ways to bring vegetables to the center of the plate though plant-based alternative protein options that mirror Chipotle’s Food With Integrity standards,” Garner said. “Meati is producing responsibly grown plant-based protein that tastes delicious.”
This initiative was not the first time that the fast-casual brand has backed technology companies. In March 2021, Chipotle announced an investment in robotic delivery company Nuro as part of the firm’s Series C funding round.
At the time, Garner said that the restaurant believes the technology “could change the traditional delivery model” and that it was in sync with Chipotle’s goal of “increasing access and convenience.”