By Stefano Babbini – CEO at Mogu
Mogu creates sustainable and innovative materials, mainly applied in the interior design sector, starting from the idea that it is possible to grow microorganisms, through a fungal fermentation, to structure materials that would otherwise not be consistent. Therefore, starting from these two elements, the fungal strains and the fibers, a line of products has been developed by optimizing the materials according to some process variables, as well as selecting the post-treatments to arrive at high-performance finished products.
Mogu’s business model has evolved over time, leading the company to create a functional identity for its target market, interior design and green building. The pillars of Mogu, as shown in the following figure, are their basic technology (fungal fermentation), an approach particularly attentive to design, combined with a strong innovative component related to the bioeconomy sector.
The sector where Mogu operates, is that of green building, which is growing at very significant rates, while the products it is targeting are precisely those of interior design, with a focus in particular towards the flooring and the acoustic sectors.
The modular Mogu Floor flooring is positioned in a luxury and premium market segment for flooring; the product is the composition of two main elements: the soul made through fungal bio composites, according to a soft and flexible formulation, combined with a Bio PU in which biomass is drowned: this acts as a cover of the final product, generating a product that it is 98% bio-based.
The added residual biomasses confer the specific pigmentation of the material, which thus has two upcycling components: the fibers recovered from the textile industry waste that are part of the core, and the filler that also characterizes the aesthetics of the product . This project was also financed by the European Commission through SME instrument phase 2, receiving 1.5 million euros in non-refundable funds.
Another solution which, at the market level, could have a more immediate impact, is an acoustic panel made of our pure, bio-degradable, very light, soft, pleasant material.
Aesthetically, and with excellent performances related to sound absorption.
The product line was called Mogu Acoustic, appreciated not only for its aesthetics and efficiency but also for its pleasantness to the touch.
In addition to interior design, Mogu is working to create, with a medium-term perspective, new families of materials in other sectors such as fashion.
In particular, some selected mycelia can be grown once separated from the fibrous substrates, creating flexible membranes which, if properly treated, can be used as an alternative to animal skin, therefore with a positive impact on the sustainability of the supply chain.
This application is already of great interest to fashion brands, but not only, which aim to diversify the choice of materials with a view to sustainability. The function of the material is still ongoing, bearing in mind the many possible uses. In any case, the advantages of this material are evident, considering that fungal microorganisms grow in very limited times (a few days) compared to traditional leathers (years).
Fungal fermentation can also represent a great opportunity in other fields, including food, on which Mogu has a long-term look. In particular, interest is in the production of new proteins for the food industry. In this regard, the company has implemented a research laboratory where solid and liquid fermentation techniques are applied, starting some experiments in collaboration with some major players in the sector.