Robotic food assembly Picnic has raised $16.3m (£11.5m) in Series A financing.
The new round was led by the venture capital group Thursday Ventures, which was joined by other investors including existing investors Creative Ventures, Flying Fish Partners and Vulcan Capital.
Picnic plans to use the capital to further expand its team and commercial operations.
Separately the firm has announced strategic partnerships with Orion Land Mark (OLM), Ethan Stowell Restaurants, National Service Cooperative and Baseline Hardware Financing.
Over the past year, Picnic has been working with its customers to better understand what is most important for restaurant owners and other kitchens in stadiums, hospitals and colleges.
The company plans to announce Picnic Pizza System deployments and ramp up production volume later in 2021.
“Picnic is developing technology to solve the challenges faced by every commercial kitchen – labour shortages, quality control, and consumer experience,” said Jared Furtado, managing partner of Thursday Ventures.
“Picnic’s dynamic automation platform will undoubtedly define the future of the food industry. We are thrilled to work alongside Clayton and his world-class team as they continue to revolutionise the way kitchens will be managed.”
Clayton Wood, CEO of Picnic, said the new financing and strategic partnerships support will help the company to launch commercial operations quickly.
“In the past year, we have learned that there is great interest from operators in solutions that alleviate labour shortages and support increased operational efficiencies by digitising functions like inventory management and identifying marketing benefits from ordering patterns.
“This financing demonstrates that our investors and the foodservice industry believe in the differentiated value of the Picnic Pizza System, and the strong need for automated solutions that help reduce costs, food waste, and labour shortages in the kitchen.”
The newly announced partnership with OLM, the largest supplier of pizza and pizza components to the convenience store industry around the world, including the US, Middle East, Japan and Europe, will offer Picnic’s advanced turnkey solution to OLM customers looking to increase pizza production and hygiene standards.
As a supplier, OLM has a global foodservice customer network and licenses its branded food concepts to over 2,000 locations throughout the world.
OLM works with a wide variety of kitchens including restaurants, pizzerias, convenience stores, military bases, colleges, sports venues, and more.
Keith Kinsey, president, and CEO of OLM, said: “The Picnic Pizza System enables OLM to increase production while also ensuring high-quality products.
“Working with Picnic on an impressive system is an exciting move forward in the growth and development of our manufacturing capabilities and equipment supply options, which opens opportunities for new customers and customer satisfaction.”