Mycel (CEO Sungjin Sah) attended the Korea-US Startup Summit, which was held from Sept 20th(Tues) to the 21st(Wed, local time) in Pier 17 in New York, USA.
Mycel is an eco-friendly startup that utilizes the physiological, biochemical, and physical properties of mushrooms and fungus to develop and produce industrial and food materials such as leather and protein (meat) using mycelium obtained from a bio process. After splitting off from Hyundai Motors in 2020, they have focused on developing a differentiated biomanufacturing process by continuing to improve raw material cultivation, materialization research, and facility development,
The processing of mycelium-based material processing drastically reduces the amount of water used and carbon emissions in comparison to animal-based material processing, and being able to repurpose industrial by-products into high-value raw materials is expected to enable collaboration with various industrial partners.
The company explained that Mycel’s mycelium protein has a much better texture, taste, and smell compared to currently used soy-based textured vegetable protein (TVP). The length and thickness of mycelium produced as fungi grow are structurally similar to that of meat fibers. It has no smell or odor, and is white, allowing it to be introduced as an ideal material to be used for a wide variety of food products.
In addition, mycelium leather shows a comparable durability and flexibility to that of animal leather. It also does not require the environmentally burdensome facilities such as wide farmlands and slaughterhouses that animal leathers require, minimizing spatial requirements as leather can be produced within 2 weeks if you simply have the fungi and fermenter. At the same time, unlike existing vegan leathers that imitate animal leathers by pulverizing raw materials and blending them with chemical products and materials, the unique property of mycelium that tightly intertwines with itself allows it to imitate the properties of animal leather on its own.
Mycel Project was awarded the ‘Global Media Award’ and was recognized for its innovation and eco-friendliness at the ‘Korea-U.S. Startup Summit.’ ‘Global Media Award’ at the ‘Korea-U.S. Startup Summit,’ selected by a panel of judges including Aving News, Lecafedugeek (French media), Lon.TV (American tech YouTube channel), Geekazine, and IT specialized media Übergizmo among others. Evaluated through a diverse set of criteria, the award is presented to excellent products based on product technology, innovation, marketability and audience response and critique.
A spokesman for Mycel said, “Cattle and other livestock which are the main sources of leather and protein are identified to be one of the biggest sources of environmental pollution. You need over half of the world’s land to raise livestock, and the greenhouse gases emitted by livestock makes up 15% of the world’s entire emissions.”Theydescribed the background behind the development of the technology saying, “In addition, growing interest in animal rights from consumers reveals the need for the development of sustainable materials, and our company sought to not only replace animal-based materials but prove its value as a new material by utilizing our company’s biotechnology.”
They went on to explain future plans of the company, saying, “In the case of the food market, we hope to develop a B2B or B2C, or maybe even a B2G business with companies that produce and sell food products in Southeast Asia. To this end, we are leaving open various possibilities, such as collaborating with our technology and opening factories locally. In addition, we are pushing to have meetings with global high-end fashion brands that are seeking to discover materials like our leather material that will replace natural and synthetic leathers.”
On the other hand, the Korea-U.S.STARTUP SUMMIT hosted by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups(Minister Young Lee) and supervised by the Korea Institute of Startup & Entrepreneurship Development(Director Yongmoon Kim) and Korea Venture Investment is providing scene of network between South Korean startups and global companies, VC and startups from New York with the nickname Silicon Alley where ecosystem and IT industry are well-developed. Through this event, they are seeking new business models of K-startups and advances into the global market, and promotes domestic investment of global capital. During the event, a corporate PR booth (joint pavilion between large corporation-startup) was set up, and U.S. VC and investment attraction IR, AC, Tech Media, and meetups and seminars were held with companies succeeded to enter the U.S. market.