Chipotle doubles down on Cultivate Next

To celebrate the venture fund's two-year anniversary, the fast-casual chain commits another $50 million to bring the investment pool to $100 million.
Cultivate Next has backed ventures that support Chipotle's commitment to local produce and more sustainable operations. |Photo courtesy of Chipotle

Chipotle is celebrating the two-year anniversary of its Cultivate Next venture fund by doubling its commitment to it.

The once $50 million venture fund now has a $100 million investment pool, thanks to an additional $50 million from the fast-casual chain.

The fund was launched in 2022 to make early-stage investments in strategically aligned companies. Beneficiaries so far have included ventures like Hyphen, a tech company that developed an automated makeline Chipotle is now testing, as well as Local Line, a food-sourcing platform that helps link farms and producers with buyers. Chipotle said the platform has been a key partner in helping the chain reach its local produce sourcing goals.

In fact, Chipotle has upped its investment in both Hyphen and Local Line with the additional commitment to Cultivate Next, the company said, though specifics were not offered.

“Our decision to double our commitment to our Cultivate Next venture fund is a clear indicator that we are investing in the right companies that we can learn from and utilize to improve the human experience of our restaurant teams, farmers and suppliers,” said Curt Garner, Chipotle’s chief customer and technology officer, in a statement. “The parallel growth of Chipotle and our partners will continue to further our mission to cultivate a better world by increasing access to real food.”

Other Cultivate Next investments include:

  • Greenfield Robotics, which makes agricultural robots that can do the weeding in fields.
  • Nitricity, which makes more planet-friendly fertilizer.
  • Vebu, the tech company that developed the Autocado, a robot that peels and cores avocados, which Chipotle is testing and will likely get its first job in a restaurant this spring.
  • Meati Foods, which makes a meat alternative out of mushroom roots (really the mycelium).
  • Zero Acre Farms, which produces more-sustainable and healthful oils and fats as an alternative to seed and vegetable oils. Chipotle is also testing use of the oil at its test kitchen in Irvine, Calif.

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


In Red Lobster, a symbol of the challenges with casual dining

The Bottom Line: Consumers have shifted dining toward convenience or occasions, and that has created havoc for full-service restaurant chains. How can these companies get customers back?


Crumbl may be the next frozen yogurt, or the next Krispy Kreme

The Bottom Line: With word that the chain’s unit volumes took a nosedive last year, its future, and that of its operators, depends on what the brand does next.


4 things we learned in a wild week for restaurant tech

Tech Check: If you blinked, you may have missed three funding rounds, two acquisitions, a “never-before-seen” new product and a bold executive poaching. Let’s get caught up.


More from our partners