Funding the Fungi Future: Joyful Ventures' Strategic Stake in Maia Farms

From Space Challenges to Earthly Solutions: Maia Farms' Award-Winning Journey

By Milo Runkle

Maia Farms mycelium-based protein, CanPro™, has 5.5X the iron of beef with a 99.6% digestibility score.

Maia Farms, recently crowned grand prize winner of the prestigious Deep Space Food Challenge, has just closed $2.3 million in an oversubscribed pre-seed round co-led by Joyful Ventures. This strategic financial infusion aims to accelerate the production of Maia Farms mycelium-based proteins, promising a transformative impact on food systems–both on Earth and in future space missions.

Maia Farms: Pioneering Mycelium Protein Production

Founded in 2021, Vancouver-based Maia Farms has rapidly emerged as a leader in the sustainable protein sector. They leverage advanced bioreactor technology to cultivate mushroom and mycelium-based protein ingredients. Their flagship product, CanPro™, has garnered attention for its remarkable nutritional profile and sustainability benefits—boasting 5.5 times the iron content of beef while requiring just one-tenth of the land.

Oversubscribed Pre-Seed Funding Round

Today, Maia Farms announced the closing of an oversubscribed pre-seed funding round, securing $2.3 million to scale operations and enhance R&D efforts. The round was co-led by Joyful Ventures and the Saskatchewan-based PIC Group. Additional support came from Koan Capital out of Alberta and prestigious grants, including contributions from the Canadian Food Innovation Network and the National Research Council of Canada, among others.

Recognition in Deep Space Food Challenge

In April, Maia Farms was crowned the grand prize winner of the Deep Space Food Challenge hosted by NASA and the Canadian Space Agency. This accolade highlights Maia Farms' innovative approach and capability in developing sustainable food solutions that could potentially support long-duration space missions and enhance food security on Earth.

Gavin Schneider, CEO of Maia Farms, shared his excitement about the recent achievements and future prospects: "This funding will propel our North American market expansion of CanPro™, enhance process optimization, and scale up mycelium production using liquid fermentation at two CDMO facilities. We're also investing in core R&D at our new mycology lab in Vancouver, designing a commercial-scale fermentation facility, and focusing on talent development and training."

Schneider also highlighted the unique aspects of their mycelium strain, which unlike common mold-type strains used in the industry, is derived from an edible mushroom variety that has been consumed for centuries. This choice eases regulatory processes and allows the use of agricultural byproducts as feedstocks, improving yield and sustainability.

Distinctive Features of CanPro™

Maia Farms has developed CanPro™ with a neutral flavor and subtle umami notes. This makes it a versatile base that can be easily seasoned or dyed to suit different culinary applications, from meat alternatives to children's nutrition. 

With 66% protein content, CanPro™ offers a remarkable nutritional profile, containing 2.7 times more potassium than bananas, four times the calcium of whole milk, and 5.5 times more iron than beef, making it a powerhouse of essential nutrients. Boasting a 99.6% digestibility rating, CanPro is more digestible than traditional plant proteins, ensuring that nutrients are more readily absorbed by the body. 

The production process naturally removes any bitterness, enhancing its flavor profile. Additionally, CanPro™ provides a complete amino acid profile, crucial for various bodily functions including tissue repair and enzyme production.

A Vision Aligned with Joyful Ventures

“Our investment in Maia Farms represents a pivotal step towards redefining the food industry through sustainable innovation,” said Milo Runkle, General Partner at Joyful Ventures. “Maia Farms' CanPro™ is not just a product; it's a testament to what the future of nutrition can look like—healthier, more accessible, and profoundly eco-friendly. We are excited to be part of this journey, helping to propel these crucial advancements that align so closely with our mission of supporting sustainable protein entrepreneurs who are poised to make a significant impact on our planet and its people.'"

Expanding Global Reach

With the newly acquired funds, Maia Farms plans to expand its market presence across North America and optimize its production processes. The investment will also support the establishment of a commercial-scale fermentation facility and the development of new products, solidifying Maia Farms' position at the forefront of the sustainable protein sector.

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