Producers of meat alternatives all over the world have long been seeking for a break-through solution that allows them to exchange egg whites for a plant-based substitute, making their products 100% vegan. FUMI Ingredients, a Wageningen University & Research spin-off, has found a natural alternative that is more cost effective than regular egg whites. The company develops functional ingredients produced from natural non-GMO, microorganisms. Innovation Industries and SHIFT Invest are the first to invest €500,000, which enables the company to produce their vegan proteins on a larger scale.
With consumers becoming increasingly aware of their diets and the environmental impact of the foods they consume, the market for vegetarian and vegan foods is growing rapidly. A major challenge for food producers is to find an alternative for using egg whites, an animal-based ingredient, to bind ‘meat’ together. It is the final hurdle to turn plant-based meat alternatives into 100% vegan products. FUMI Ingredients may have struck gold by finding a solution that is a sustainable and economical way to produce vegan protein. Not surprisingly some of the world’s largest food producers have already shown their interest to the company.
Natural egg white replacers at lower costs
During his PhD study at the Bioprocess Engineering group of Wageningen University & Research (WUR), co-founder Edgar Suarez Garcia developed a process for an egg white replacer made from natural microorganisms. After obtaining his doctorate Edgar also designed a proprietary and scalable production process that can beat regular egg white prices at industrial scale. A natural egg white replacer at lower production costs makes the solution a double win. Considering that egg whites have a global market size of $30 billion, a cost-effective and more sustainable alternative represents a lucrative business opportunity.
Turning research into a game changing business
Both Edgar and his (former) PhD supervisor Corjan van den Berg immediately recognized the market potential and decided to investigate how to turn the research into a viable business. They founded FUMI Ingredients and with the support of WUR and startup accelerator StartLife, Edgar and Corjan further developed their company. “As academic researchers we had limited knowledge on how to set up a company. WUR and StartLife gave us all the support and resources we needed to successfully start our company and helped prepare us for raising funds.”, Corjan says.
Sebastian Berendse, corporate director value creation of WUR credits the Bioprocess Engineering research group and AlgaePARC led by professor Rene Wijffels for supporting FUMI Ingredients on its route towards implementation and global impact. The research group presently hosts the company at AlgaePARC where the company can further develop their product.
FUMI Ingredients will use the raised capital to realize their scale-up ambitions and to accelerate their market entry. Both SHIFT Invest and Innovation Industries look forward to helping the company take the next steps in commercializing their ingredients and growing their organization, as underlined by Sander Verbrugge, Investment Director of Innovation Industries and Bram Ledeboer, partner at SHIFT Invest.
FUMI Ingredients welcomes the support of the two investors wholeheartedly. Corjan says: “The combination of SHIFT Invest and Innovation Industries turned out to be an excellent match. Aside from their financial support the two investing partners clearly demonstrated that they share our enthusiasm for FUMI Ingredients. We are confident about achieving sustainable growth together and making a lasting impact.“
About FUMI Ingredients
FUMI Ingredients has developed an innovative egg-white replacer from single cell protein using a unique proprietary approach to transform naturally occurring micro-organisms into highly functional fractions containing proteins, peptides and polysaccharides. These ingredients show superior techno-functional properties compared to other animal and plant-based proteins.
About Innovation Industries
Innovation Industries is an independent venture capital investor that provides accelerator capital and strategic support to Dutch High-tech, MedTech and Agri- & Foodtech businesses with innovative proprietary technology, solving real-world problems in identifiable markets. Innovation Industries uses a market-driven approach to create long term value in high technology start-up and scale-up companies. The investment in FUMI Ingredients is made from a dedicated early-stage technology transfer fund, Smart Industries Fund – which is managed by Innovation Industries.
About SHIFT Invest
SHIFT Invest is a Dutch impact venture capital fund that invests in innovations related to agriculture, food, green, circular technologies. Through its investments, SHIFT strives to achieve material, measurable impact on the environment or health, in addition to financial returns. Together with its partners, SHIFT offers entrepreneurs a broad network and knowledge of various sectors. SHIFT is managed by NBI Investors, a team of experienced investment professionals and entrepreneurs.