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Mycorena Awarded ESA Funding for Revolutionary Mycoprotein Production

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Mycorena Awarded ESA Funding for Revolutionary Mycoprotein Production

Gothenburg, Sweden - Mycorena proudly announces receiving funding from the European Space Agency's (ESA) Discovery Programme through the innovative ESA Initial Support for Innovation (EISI) program. This project, "Resource Efficient Food Production System for Space Travel," is set to revolutionize sustainable food production, focusing on mycoprotein from filamentous fungi, with significant potential for space missions and Earth's sustainable food systems.

The EISI program, which supports ventures at the forefront of space exploration and technology, recognizes Mycorena's innovative approach to tackling the challenges of producing high-quality, nutritious food for long-duration space missions. This project not only underscores the innovative nature of Mycorena's research efforts but also its potential to significantly impact future food production methodologies both in space and on Earth.

“Mycorena's idea to develop a circular food production system is considered highly interesting for space applications and has been selected via the Open Space Innovation Platform (https://ideas.esa.int) as an Early Technology Development project and carried out under the Discovery program of, and funded by, the European Space Agency (contract number: 4000144201)." Moritz Fontaine, Discovery & Preparation Officer at ESA.

Innovating Space Food with Mycoprotein
At the heart of Mycorena's project is the development of a system to produce mycoprotein, emphasizing its great nutritional value. This fungi-derived mycoprotein is sustainable, rich in essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, making it an exemplary food source for astronauts. It supports muscle health and overall well-being, essential in the microgravity environment of space.

Validated by NASA’s Deep Space Food Challenge
An initial prototype of this innovative system was validated in NASA's Deep Space Food Challenge (DSFC), where it was recognized as one of the winners of Phase 2. This achievement highlights the mycoprotein's unique qualities, including its nutritious, fibrous, and protein-rich nature, offering a meat-like texture crucial for enhancing astronauts' culinary experience. By providing options beyond the typical tasteless paste, it supports the psychological well-being of crew members by alleviating the mental stress of long-term isolation with food that resembles the comforts of home.

"This project will focus on developing the prototype we designed during NASA's Deep Space Food Challenge. It is an important step for us to have been selected by the European Space Agency in their Early Technology Development program and a huge validation for our efforts to develop resource-efficient processes that have a high potential for applications both in space exploration and in terrestrial food production" says Carlos Núñez Otero, PhD Scientist and Technical Lead for the project from Mycorena.

Sustainable, Efficient, and Globally Scalable
Mycoprotein production through this system is notably resource-efficient, using 90 % less land than plant-based and up to 99 % less than animal protein production, alongside significant freshwater savings and a minimal carbon footprint. This system's adaptability to various by-products or side-streams generated during space travel further underscores its versatility, which also creates potential for Earth applications, promoting a shift from centralized to decentralized global protein production systems.

“Mycoprotein production is already superior to most other types of protein production methods in terms of CO2 emissions, water- and land usage. But we don’t want to stop there, at Mycorena we constantly strive to improve our product further to be able to provide the very best protein ingredient regarding health, taste, texture, and sustainability. In this project we explore ways to valorize our own side-streams, creating a food production system using minimal inputs and generating almost no waste” says Kristina Karlsson, PhD, Head of R&D and coordinator for the project from Mycorena.

Collaboration with AlgoSolis
In a strategic partnership with French microalgae experts AlgoSolis, Mycorena aims to elevate the system to new heights. With a recent infusion of €175,000 in funding for a two-year project, the collaboration will focus on optimizing the use of microalgae as a substrate for fungi growth. While the primary focus remains on fungi-derived mycoprotein, AlgoSolis's expertise will contribute to refining the production process, enhancing the nutritional and sensory quality of the mycoprotein, and developing an integrated, efficient system. An improved prototype of the system will be designed, and 3D printed food products will be developed and evaluated with regards to both nutritional and sensory aspects.

“Simulating Spatial conditions for resource production is a perfect way to challenge our circular economy approach. Indeed, nothing is lost, everything is transformed in space, and it's a philosophy that we absolutely must aim to systematize on earth too! Microalgae are a marvelous biological machine for this, capturing CO2 and nutrients, to generate high-value molecules like proteins, sugars, fatty acids, antioxidant pigments, and so on. The coupling of a microalgae culture and a mycelium culture is a good example of this circular concept, and we are proud to contribute to this innovative project that is ACFIS, along with Mycorena." says Lucie Van Haver, Head of the Microalgae Bioprocesses team at Capacités, operators of the AlgoSolis R&D platform in this project.

About Mycorena
Mycorena is a leader in sustainable food technology, focusing on the innovative production of mycoprotein. Committed to environmental sustainability and technological advancement, Mycorena addresses crucial challenges in global food security and sustainable food production.

About AlgoSolis
AlgoSolis links academic research and industrial sectors for the development of microalgae industry. Leveraging over 25 years of research at GEPEA laboratory, AlgoSolis offers a range of technological solutions and scientific expertise to the development of a new competitive and sustainable industry.

About ESA’s Discovery Programme
The European Space Agency's Discovery Programme supports cutting-edge projects enhancing European space capabilities. Through the EISI mechanism, ESA fosters the development of innovative technologies, ensuring Europe remains at the forefront of space exploration and technology.

For Collaboration Opportunities
Kristina Karlsson, PhD
Head of R&D
kristina.karlsson@mycorena.com

Carlos Nunez Otero, PhD
TechMyc Manager and Project Lead
carlos@mycorena.com

For General Inquiries
Ebba Fröling
Chief Operating Officer
ebba@mycorena.com

Additional Information

For more details about Mycorena and our projects, please visit Mycorena's website.

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Mycorena is a food tech startup that produces a sustainable, vegan and high-quality mycoprotein. Based in Gothenburg, they manufacture their product, Promyc, which enables large-scale production of high-quality and sustainable food.

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Ebba Fröling

Ebba Fröling

Presskontakt COO +46 (0)70 380 90 49

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Mycorena AB
Gamlestadsvägen 2
415 02 Göteborg
Sweden