How one startup is turning mushroom-based materials into sustainable bioproducts offering alternatives to leather and construction materials while empowering local communities.
In just seven years, Mycotech Lab (MYCL) has gained significant traction attracting the attention of partners across a range of sectors.
Since 2016, the company has been developing a renewable material made with mycelium, the root-like fungi that support mushroom growth. These are now in demand as the basis for a range of high-quality products, from clothing, handbags and other fashion items to building panels for construction and more.
Creating innovative new biomaterials
Until a few years ago, MYCL’s chief executive officer, Adi Reza Nugroho, a trained architect, never dreamed of working with mushrooms.
His decision to switch tracks stemmed from a lightbulb moment he had one day as he took a walk in the countryside and observed the way farmers were using agricultural waste to build houses. Inspired, he started exploring ways to advance innovation with other sustainable and affordable building materials.
Thanks to inputs from his co-founder’s family business growing mushrooms, Reza was already aware of the strength and durability of the mycelium networks that nurture mushrooms. These take the form of thread-like fibres that seek to bind themselves around substrate materials in a dense net.
“I was inspired by the way tempeh is produced,” says Reza. This traditional Indonesian foodstuff is made by binding fermented soybeans into compact blocks with the help of mycelium fibres.