Maia Farms

This interview details Maia Farms, an indoor farming company based in Canada. The interview is with Gavin Schneider, CEO & Co-Founder of Maia Farms.

Source: Maia Farms

What is the origin story of Maia Farms?

Maia Farms started when a farmer, an engineer, and a neuroscientist were tasked with growing a cow on Mars as a finalist in the Deep Space Food Challenge.

The team aligned around the global challenges facing protein production and how fungi offer the best solutions for taste and nutrition.

For the last two years, the company worked in the lab to produce a complete protein in seven days through biomass fermentation. In 2024 the company is launching their first mushroom protein ingredient, CanPro.

In 2021 the founders built the company's first mycelium lab in a 500 sqft studio in East Vancouver and began building a fungal library and testing different mycelium production technologies.

In 2022 the company entered the Creative Destruction Lab in Calgary Alberta, emerging as one of the only companies to complete the program that year and receive funding from the advisors.

In 2023 the company successfully completed a Pre-Seed Fundraising with Canadian and American value aligned investors. Additionally, the company raised substantial matching grant funding to further the fermentation process.

The name Maia stems from ancient Roman Mythology, who was the mother of Hermes and was representative of the concept of growth. 

Further, a dual play on the word Maia, is the acronym AI. As a company being built in the age of artificial intelligence, the team is committed to deploying new technology across all aspects of the business to drive growth. 

The company is committed to its mission to Nourish Life. Maia farms ethical protein with technology to feed brains, bodies, and planets. Maia is building a new pillar of protein to feed this world and the next.

Source: Maia Farms

What are some of the biggest challenges facing Maia Farms in the future? 

The company is scaling up a simple process of biomass fermentation to produce a mushroom protein ingredient that matches consumers' expectations of taste and texture.

The global challenge facing protein supply is that plant based proteins are underperforming in nutrition and chew while animal protein is resource intensive and inefficient. 

On the other side, cellular meat is facing serious technical hurdles despite massive investments in the leading companies.

There has not been a major shift to plant based proteins because of the taste, texture, and cost. 

That's where mycelium or mushroom protein solves the problem.

Naturally fibrous and meat-like, our planet's best solution for a scalable protein supply has been living beneath our feet millenia. 

Building sufficient fermentation capacity with a stable feedstock to meet the staggering demand for the product will be the main challenge the company will solve in the next couple of years. 

While the capital required for a new build is high, the potential return is enticing at the planned commercial scales.

As a whole, the North American alternative protein industry is challenged with maintaining appropriate pricing as global supplies of pea protein have created turbulence in the market. 

Source: Maia Farms

What is unique about Maia Farms compared to competitors? 

Maia is focussed on producing a simple protein ingredient that dramatically improves taste and texture over other plant proteins such as pea or soy protein.

Our technology and production process, which was originally designed to grow food on a future mission to the Moon or Mars, is a beacon of hope for sustainable food production.

Our unique and fast growing strain of fungi grows exceptionally well on a range of upcycled agricultural commodities. We create a circular food system that is better for human and environmental health.

Most importantly, we work directly with food manufacturers to integrate the product into their existing production process. Working with mushroom protein is still new, and we make that process simple. 

Source: Maia Farms

What are some other relevant metrics of the company (growing area size, production quantity, team size, etc.)?

As of January 2024 the team size is seven people, with multiple technical and business development positions open in 2024.

The team works out of our specialized Fungal Intelligence lab in North Vancouver and with multiple food-safe contract manufacturers across Canada. 

The company is finalizing plans to build a future commercial production facility in Western Canada. 

The team has commercial orders for tens of thousands of kilograms of CanPro, with deliveries already underway to initial customers.

What are some goals in 2024 and beyond for Maia Farms?

The 2024 trajectory is Growth. Growth in production capacity, growth in customer relationships, growth in sales and revenue, and growth as a team. 

The company will further its development of a robust IP portfolio through its ongoing R&D pipeline. 

In 2024 the company will be building the industrial and financial groundwork for Canada's first fungal biomass fermentation farm. 

In Spring 2024 the winners of the Deep Space Food Challenge will be announced, where Maia has partnered with Ecoation, a greenhouse technology company. 

If the technology submission is successful, the team will win a significant cash prize and international recognition for its three-year effort. Currently, the team is a Top 4 Finalist.

New York Times called 2023 the year of the Mushrooms - watch for Maia to achieve big things in 2024 with a novel mushroom protein and valuable partnerships. 

How can people connect with you or learn more about Maia Farms?

The company can be visited at www.maiafarms.ca or on Linkedin. CBC did a great feature video that can be watched here Vancouver based company creates mushroom protein as a meat alternative.

Stay tuned for direct consumer ordering of CanPro from the website in early 2024. In addition, Azelis Canada is our official Sales and Distribution partner for the ingredients. 

For more information on ordering the ingredient, employment opportunities, or investment opportunities contact founders@maiafarms.ca 

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