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Startup Innovation Challenge

Startup success for FUMI Ingredients – Edgar Suarez Garcia [Interview]

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FUMI Ingredients believe that there still is a major untapped source of high value ingredients in microorganisms which can be used for fully sustainable diets. As a result, they have developed a unique platform to produce functional, animal-free, food ingredients. And their aim? Proteins suitable for egg-white replacement.

The technology behind FUMI’s platform is based on an efficient and mild extraction of specific molecules present in the structure of the microorganisms. With their highly innovative food production technology, FUMI Ingredients not only won the award for Most Innovative Alternative Food or Beverage ingredient at Fi Europe 2019’s Startup Innovation Challenge, but they were also selected by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) to receive a special €10,000 EIT Food Prize grant. We caught up with Edgar Suarez Garcia, CTO of FUMI Ingredients, to find out what winning has meant for them.

As well as winning the 2019 Startup Innovation Challenge in the Most Innovative Alternative Food / Beverage ingredient category, you were also selected by EIT to receive their special €10,000 Food Prize grant. Could you tell us what winning these prizes have brought you?

“Winning these two awards was a remarkable boost to our startup. The money element is always well received (especially for an early stage startup), but the exposure, recognition and networking opportunities were really important and something we did not expect. After being recognised as winners, we had the opportunity to meet more investors and companies willing to collaborate with us and to support our development. We received very useful advice from several sources and we also were awarded expert advice on the topic legislation.”

How has taking part in this challenge benefitted you in terms of exposure, advice from our jury members, as well as the networking, both on and after the judging day?

“Receiving advice and feedback from the members of the jury, as well as from individuals and companies participating during the event, was one of the most relevant benefits during the challenge. In addition, getting up to date with other fellow startups and getting a glimpse of the current innovations and products launched by established small and large companies in the food sector worldwide, was also crucial, as this provides an excellent view on the newest developments.”

“Being part of the challenge meant that we had the opportunity to not only present our innovations and plans to many visitors from companies, institutions and  the public in general, but also, to investors. This networking was crucial to continue building collaboration opportunities with several players in the field.”

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Can you tell us at what development stage your company is?

“FUMI Ingredients is currently validating its technology to produce a novel vegan egg white. This validation takes place along with several food companies in Europe.”

Would you say you have found your way to enter the market and what advantage do you feel your business model is proving to be?

“It is too early to say we have found a ‘clear’ way to enter the market. We have, however, a very good idea of the market we want to address, and we believe we have a strong product and technology. But we still need to develop an effective way to market. Our business model is particularly advantageous since we are proving a non-GMO solution, independent of traditional farming, scalable and economically competitive.”

What advice would you give any startup willing to take part in the challenge?

“To enjoy the challenge, learn from it and take advantage of the experts and many companies visiting the event.”

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