Irish agritech’s big idea for protein selected by global accelerator

4 Oct 2022

Niskus Biotec co-founder and COO Dr Tony Callaghan. Image: Niskus Biotec

The Donegal start-up has received pre-seed investment of $200,000 for its fungal-based flour that can be used to make protein-rich foods.

Irish start-up Niskus Biotec has been chosen by Big Idea Ventures to join its latest global accelerator.

The Irish agritech is one of 17 early-stage companies selected to join the bi-annual new protein accelerator programme. Niskus, the only Irish start-up in the cohort, has received a pre-seed investment package of $200,000.

The accelerator aims to address the future challenge of feeding the world sustainably. Big Idea Ventures said the alternative protein market can help make quality protein cheaper and more readily available, while moving the end-to-end production process to local communities.

Niskus Biotec works with agri-food and biotech companies on large-scale, solid-state fungal fermentation. It selects suitable fungal strains for processes and develops fungal-derived products such as proteins, enzymes and intermediates.

The Donegal company’s first product range is MycoGrain, which is a mycelium-based protein-rich flour that can be used as the base ingredient for a broad range of food products.

Niskus said this flour can be tailored to provide additional taste, texture, aroma and nutraceuticals by changing the mushroom species in the fermenter.

Earlier this year, Niskus was one of nine start-ups in the agriculture and food space that completed the 12-week AgTechUCD Agccelerator Programme. It also recently established a production facility at the Ballybay Food Enterprise Hub in Monaghan.

“We are delighted to have been selected for the Big Idea Ventures accelerator, the support from their team is helping us forge strong collaborations with food companies and connections with food-tech investors around the globe,” said Niskus Biotec CEO Vincent Farrelly.

Big Idea Ventures said the investments were made through its three offices in Paris, New York and Singapore, along with its first fund called New Protein Fund I. To date, the venture firm said it has invested in more than 100 companies across 22 countries.

The 17 companies selected for the accelerator come from the US, Canada, UK, Germany, Singapore, Australia, Iceland and Ireland.

“These companies offer compelling solutions to scale production, cut costs and improve both the nutrition and taste profiles of alternative protein products,” said Big Idea Ventures founder and managing general partner Andrew D Ive.

”I encourage investors, corporate leaders, and partners to reach out to the founders of the companies that most excite them and find out more about the innovative technologies and applications they are developing.”

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic