EU invests in a safe and sustainable food system
Hamburg-based biotech startup Mushlabs has been selected for the EU's prestigious EIC Accelerator program. More than 1,000 startups and small businesses from Europe applied to receive a share of the €382 million in total capital. 74 outstanding companies will now each receive funding of up to 17.5 million Euros - with Mushlabs receiving an eight-digit figure. Through the EIC Accelerator program, the EU aims to support technology startups that address societal challenges and drive breakthrough European innovations. This year, five companies from the food sector are represented. For CEO and founder, Dr. Mazen Rizk, Mushlabs’ selection is a clear sign that Europe is focusing on ensuring a safe and sustainable food supply.
Hamburg, June 13, 2022 - German company Mushlabs is harnessing the power of biotechnology to develop a new generation of sustainable food. The production process is unique: instead of cultivating a mushroom fruiting body, the mycelium (the root of the mushroom) is grown in a highly efficient and time-saving process called fermentation. The resulting ingredient serves as a new staple food and, thanks to its outstanding properties, can be transformed into almost any food product with little effort. At the same time, it has a significantly smaller ecological footprint than soy or meat. Mushlabs' vision is to create a sustainable, healthy and fair food system - made in Europe.
Established in 2021 by the European Commission, the European Innovation Council (EIC) is Europe's flagship innovation program to identify, develop and disseminate breakthrough innovations across all technology sectors, particularly the health, environment, and digital sectors. Startups and small and medium-sized enterprises are supported by the program, with only the most innovative companies selected through the competitive and rigorous selection process by external experts, investors, and entrepreneurs. In 2021, the first year of the EIC Accelerator program, only 4% of projects were awarded funding. Decisive criteria for selection are the provision of an innovative and strategically relevant technology for Europe, a contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, excellent scale-up potential, and a well-thought-out commercialization strategy. As part of the EIC community, the selected companies will receive capital as well as mentoring and access to investors and companies.
Quote Dr. Mazen Rizk, CEO and Founder of Mushlabs:
“Our selection for the EIC Accelerator Program shows that the EU is seriously addressing the sustainability and security issues in the food sector. The looming food crisis and the ongoing devastating effects on the environment make it abundantly clear how fragile our current system is. Mushlabs uses biotechnology to tap into the full nutritional potential of mycelium, the root of mushrooms. Using fermentation, we cultivate a new staple food that has the potential to feed the world. New technologies like this make it possible to build a fairer, decentralized, and sustainable food system. We want to lead this revolution in Europe and take it into the world. Support programs such as the EIC Accelerator strengthen Europe as an innovation site and secure promising technologies for its own markets. To become even more competitive, the EU can and must do more - for example, in accelerating regulatory and approval processes. Here we are already behind other competitor regions."
Comment from the EIC Jury:
“The jury believes that the European Union needs to support companies with unique and strategic technology to produce sustainable alternative protein based on a circular model. This is a break-through technology born in Europe that can impact the alternatives to the animal protein market with clean and less processed final food products. The project is addressing several SDGs with positive impact on land, water and energy usage. The team is business savvy, ambitious, adapts quickly, coachable and has complimentary skills needed to implement the technology and the scale-up.”
Mushlabs is a young biotech company based in Hamburg, Germany, producing a new generation of natural and sustainable food by fermenting edible mushroom mycelium. The start-up was founded in Berlin in 2018 by current CEO Dr. Mazen Rizk. Currently, the company is moving into its new headquarters in Hamburg and includes nearly 50 employees from over 20 different countries. The vision: to use the power of mushrooms and biotechnology to build a sustainable food system for a growing global population.