GeneusBiotech Awarded with Grant for Furoid
April 15, 2022 - 5 min read
EU-Pathfinder states that the project has the potential to represent a significant technological advancement
AMSTERDAM, April 15, 2022 - GENEUSBIOTECH has been awarded a grant from the European Commission in the Pathfinder Challenge for its Furoid technology. The Commission sees great potential in the innovative process and has allocated more than EUR 4 million to further develop the promising technology.
In its evaluation report, the Commission states that the proposal is very good, scoring between 3.5 and 4.5 on a scale of 5. This, according to the Commission, is evidence of a particularly excellent proposal. The Commission also shares GENEUSBIOTECH’s ambition of no longer using animals for the production of fur, hair and wool by 2030, but through in vitro production.
In its report, the evaluation committee describes GENEUSBIOTECH’s project as follows:
"The mission of FUROID is to enable animal-free production of hair (humans), fur (endangered animals) or wool (sheep). The key innovation is the development of continuous and scalable technology, enabling the end of using living animals as a source of fur and wool and dominating the market by 2030. Specifically, we will focus on the development of engineered living fur (ELF).
"This Evaluation Summary Report contains the final score decided by the Pathfinder Challenges Evaluation Committee. It comprises a collation of the comments from individual reports, or extracts from them, a comment that summarises the assessment by the Evaluation Committee as well as any additional comments. The Evaluation Committee drew its conclusions on the basis of the remote score and the outcome of its consensus discussions.
"The comments from the individual evaluators are collated per sub-criterion, so in the report the comments on each sub-criterion reflect the opinions from all three evaluators. While not necessarily subscribing to each and every opinion expressed, the Evaluation Committee finds that the comments from the evaluators provide a fair overall assessment, indicating both essential strengths and weaknesses identified in the proposal.
"The Evaluation Committee agrees with the evaluators who state that developing different HLMs based on mammalian cells for engineered living fur, hair, and wool using a scalable top-down technological approach is directly related to and contributes to the overall goals of the Challenge. The Evaluation Committee agrees with the evaluators who state that the proposed project is highly ambitious and novel, and has the potential to represent a significant technological advancement beyond the current state of the art."
FUROID™ is a cultivated biomaterial developed especially for the fur industry. The product is molecularly identical to animal fur, feels and behaves the same but offers many more advantages. After all, the product is 100% animal-friendly, extremely durable and hypoallergenic. It is made through three dimensional bioprinting. This method combines cells with growth factors and biomaterials to create biomedical parts, with the aim of mimicking natural tissue properties. This is more or less comparable with the technique for cultured meat.
GENEUSBIOTECH sees a huge gap in the market for FUROID™. Fur is the oldest form of human clothing. In the early days of mankind, fur was a means of braving the cold. Today, fur is the epitome of conspicuous luxury. But all this comes at an enormous cost in terms of animal suffering. Every year, more than 100 million animals are killed for their fur. Since animal rights activists rightly point out this unnecessary suffering and since it became clear last year that fur animals can easily pass on COVID-19 to humans, the fashion industry has been careful in promoting fur. Not a bad thing in itself, but the downside of this is that it has led to an increase in the illegal trade in fur with even worse consequences for the animals, and to the emergence of synthetic alternatives that are very harmful to the environment.
Since the problem is not fur itself, but rather the production method, GENEUSBIOTECH has refined its technique to produce fur in an animal-friendly manner. The approach is simple: to make fur acceptable by eliminating animal suffering and toxic production methods to develop synthetic variants. The researchers at GENEUSBIOTECH are acting in the same way as the leather industry, which is also looking for alternatives to natural leather derived from animal skins. Incidentally, GENEUSBIOTECH has filed a patent for the technology in 2019 and last year the company obtained approval on ethical grounds to set up experiments to obtain cultivated wool.
GENEUSBIOTECH does not want to enter into a debate on whether or not to wear fur. Fur must be recognised as a natural attire, but the way in which it is obtained can and must be questioned. It is not acceptable that millions of animals have to suffer to dress people. But people should - if they choose 100% for sustainability (read animal friendly) - be able to enjoy wearing fur. The intention of FUROID™ fits in with the recent attempts by cellular food companies to create foods such as caviar, foie gras and wagyu beef that are completely animal friendly and can remove the dilemma between taste, pleasure, and guilt.
FUROID™ seeks a balance between luxury - in this case wearing fur - and sustainability - in this case excluding animal suffering. FUROID™ wants to give people the opportunity to wear fur, to be willing to pay the price they deem necessary and yet not be burdened with a sense of guilt for supporting an industry that uses animal abuse, illegal or not, as a technique to get to the product. The fact that people want to live a high-end lifestyle should not be a reason to fish these people out if they agree to do so in a way that is good for the animals in particular and our environment (read: no synthetic variants) in general.
In May 2020, GENEUSBIOTECH entered into an R&D project with various research institutions to further develop the technology of bioprinting. This will include the cultivation of biomaterials such as cell-based fur, as well as the cultivation of human hair for transplantation into the scalp. GENEUSBIOTECH has patented the method it has developed. Meanwhile, interest in the technology from the outside world is growing and GENEUSBIOTECH was also a guest at the World Congress on Alternatives to Animal Testing.
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