Kat Bruce – Going from putting insects in a food processor to raising $27M in 10 years and building the biggest eDNA biodiversity monitoring company

A conversation with Kat Bruce, founder of Nature Metrics , going from scooping insects with a small net and putting them in a food processor, to analysing the goo with an eDNA machine, to working with lots of large food corporations on measuring their biodiversity, food footprint, and impact.

How do you look back at raising 27 million dollars and spending 10 years building the biggest biodiversity measurement company using eDNA in a time where very few people care at all about biodiversity, let alone invest in measuring it. How do we analyse water at a catchment area to see what lives in that area? How about soil measurements for DNA at scale, and what about air sniffing and analysing? And why are the corporations only coming in in the last few years? Where are people moving, and what is still missing?



Data can be complex, but it’s important to manage it effectively to build trust and make informed decisions.

”When we talk about biodiversity, we talk about the fact that it is complex. And if we rush too fast to solutions that just bypass the complexity, then we end up in a place where we’re not fixing the actual problems. We know how to deal with complexity; we deal with it. From a data perspective, we deal with big, complex data all over the place in our lives these days. AI is not difficult. From a sort of systems and metrics perspective, actually, the more I talk with the finance world, the more you realise there’s complexity everywhere. People are used to complexity; we don’t need to oversimplify this; we need to be very clear that there is complexity, and it’s not about bypassing it; it’s about finding ways to manage it.” Kat Bruce


Nature-based solutions for climate change require ecosystem health for long-term carbon benefits and resilience.

”The ability of that ecosystem to persist, thrive, and continue delivering the carbon benefits totally relies on that ecosystem’s overall health, and that means having all the different components of the ecosystem and all of the different pieces of biodiversity that support it to be successful. If you don’t have those things, the likelihood of actually delivering your carbon benefits for a long time and having any kind of resilience is minimal. So, it’s incredibly shortsighted from the carbon perspective to try to do that.

And then you think, nature versus technology? Well, again, it’s all the co-benefits that you get, so if you invest in mangroves, for example, you’ll capture some carbon, but you’re also going to bring back fisheries, local agriculture, and local economies, and potentially save billions in coastal infrastructure to protect coastlines from flood surges and everything. So, in terms of killing many birds with one stone, investing in nature and doing it properly, working with people on the ground who know how to do it, investing in adaptive management, etc., it will pay off many, many times over.” Kat Bruce


There is a clear urgency for transparency in supply chains due to EU regulations and the climate crisis.

”The companies that are leading the way in this phase are the ones that do happen to have some visibility over their supply chains or can trace things all the way to the ground. And even those companies can’t do that everywhere; often, they can only do it in, you know, a few places. […] I’ve been on various panels around sort of TNFD (Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures) and things like that. And it’s very quickly brought up as an obstacle to having real data.
‘None of this is possible because we don’t know where our impacts are’, or most companies don’t know where their assets are. There’s a real risk that a lot of effort gets put into making work around to deal with the fact that companies don’t have visibility over their supply chains. Rather than putting all of that effort into making it safer, companies will have to have visibility over their supply chains, because, actually, that’s the only way you’ve got levers that you can pull to make real change. And, you know, we’re not going to be successful in addressing either the climate or the biodiversity crisis, actually, if we don’t change that.” Kat Bruce

”We hear about some companies that are taking more and more of that supply chain in house so that they have full sort of visibility over the full value chain. And maybe that will be a trend that we see more of, but I think, you know, we need solutions. We need solutions to bring visibility and traceability, and we need the legal framework that, you know, increasingly requires companies to have to do it.” Kat Bruce


Kat highlights the ease of collecting samples and the multiple lenses through which biodiversity can be viewed.

”It’s very possible with these sorts of tools. I think with EDNA tools in general, there’s two ways in which they’re really transformative in terms of the scale at which we can really take account for biodiversity. One is that the samples are very easy to collect. So, they can be collected by the landowner, the farmer, or whoever’s there. And the second is that within each sample, you’ve got DNA from right across the tree of life. So, you can look at biodiversity through multiple different lenses. So, from an individual set of samples, they take water samples for example, you might look at the biodiversity from the perspective of the fish, the vertebrates, the wildlife, and things that sort of fit with what we know about nature, ecology, conservation, etc. And they’re all things we want to bring back or protect.” Kat Bruce

”You can also look at their smaller, less charismatic components of their biodiversity, which are the invertebrates, the bacteria, the fungi, the algae, all of those sorts of things, which are really much more intimately linked to the functioning and the health of the ecosystem itself, and things like pollution.” Kat Bruce


Koen and Kat also talked about:

  • Scaling sustainable agriculture practices using data-driven approaches
  • Subsidies reform to incentivize sustainable land use practices
  • Investing in nature and biodiversity, challenges in measuring impact




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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.

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