Italian materials company Sqim, which specialises in biofabricated materials made from pure mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms, has been awarded the ANDAM 2023 Innovative Prize.
Sqim is the first biotech company to be cultivating mycelium on a pure basis, explains ANDAM in the press release, a process that eliminates the use of contaminating chemicals along the growth process and guarantees consistency in quality.
Its innovative biofabricated Ephea material is described as the “most organic, viable, and otherwise environmentally sound alternative to leathers and synthetics,” for use in luxury fashion products. Made from employing pure mycelium, Ephea consumes minimal resources and emits trace amounts of CO2, as mycelium grows by feeding on low-value agro-industrial feedstock.
Ephea made its commercial fashion debut during the Balenciaga autumn/winter 2022 catwalk show as a maxi hooded wrap coat.
Nathalie Dufour, founder and general manager of ANDAM said: “This year's selection showed how much biotechnology, recycling and traceability are central to innovation and scientific research.
“I congratulate our 2023 winner, Sqim, which proposes, through Ephea and the use of mycelium, a new innovative material, that fully represents the current paradigm shift which consists of placing the living at the centre of production processes.”
ANDAM Innovation Award won by Italian materials company Sqim
Stefano Babbini, chief executive and co-founder of Sqim/Ephea added: “With Ephea, we are finally demonstrating that, by partnering with nature through biofabrication-driven processes, it is possible to deliver truly responsible yet highly functional innovative products that allow matching sustainability, technical performance, and aesthetics, as key ingredients to drive effective positive impact.
“Particularly, our technology allows for delivering the highest quality of mycelium materials and products in the market, which are also entirely free from any animal-derived content.
“Thanks to the ANDAM Fashion Innovation Award, today we further consolidate our unique positioning in the luxury segment, setting a solid basis for the upcoming industrial developments.”
The Innovation Prize was launched in 2017 to support and encourage technological innovations that contribute to transforming and reinventing the fashion industry. It is open to any entrepreneur or start-up, French or international, who are willing to develop their project in France.
The projects have to offer innovative and technological solutions for the fashion industry within the field of biotech, new materials, production, distribution and circular economy.
The two other finalists this year were: Idelam, a company developing an innovative process using CO2 to separate, in a clean and fast way, glued materials, to enable their proper recycling to address the issue of recycling complex multi-material wastes currently not recycled; and Materra, which is looking to transform natural fibres into a force for systemic environmental and social change, starting with cotton by designing and implementing an AI-powered traceability tool.