Lab Lab nominated in 'Most Innovative Alternative Food/Beverage Ingredient' category

17 Nov 2019

Lab Lab has been nominated in the FIE 2019 Startup Challenge in the category 'Most Innovative Alternative Food/Beverage Ingredient'. We pitch at an event on 1 December and hope to win this honourable title. Read more about our Pitch below.

Lab Lab produces a proprietary, live, liquid starter culture, a SCOBY ie complex syntrophic cultures of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts, to make innovative beverages, food, feed and ingredients. The unique SCOBY and our proprietary methods are key to fermenting many different plants and “waste” from other food value chains. Our production entails “zero waste” as we commercialise both the liquid and solid parts of the fermentation processes, on top of which we up-scale and sell/license the use of the starter culture itself.

Over the last 16 months we have developed our B2B arm, engaged with a number of other businesses to develop, prototype and commercialise solutions to ferment seaweed, coffee beans, “medicinal herbs”, hops, and mash from beer breweries, and many berries, fruits and plants resulting in new probiotic beverages, foods, feed and ingredients. We have developed a non-alcoholic “beer” mimicking standard brewery practices except for the starter culture. We have processed up to 2 tonnes of seaweed a day during the Norwegian seaweed season in 2019, with commitment to upscale this production from 2020 onwards. We have made a new coffee bean-based probiotic drink, which will be launched commercially by the largest coffee roaster in Norther Europe from Q4’19/Q1’20. With an innovative herbal feed supplement producer in Denmark we have made and commercialised new probiotic products for horses without freeze drying the microorganisms.

In parallel with the B2B activities we have developed our own brand of beverages and food supplements, a Ginger Kefir beverage (sweet and with hops) and an innovative “Granolab” product of fermented dates and oat grains as a supplement for breakfast, snacks and as a stomach regulator (compared with lactic acid bacteria capsules and powders).

We are self financed, and furthermore succeeded in raising new capital in two rounds of financing. We finalise(d) our first financial year on 30 september 2019 with prospects of breaking even in 2020. In contrast to other fermentation methods we make money out of both the liquid and solid parts, as well as from selling/ licensing the use of the SCOBY. Our production methods are up-scalable.

In the beverage market there is a growing interest in live, natural fermented drinks like Kombucha and live kefir drinks, as witnessed by eg. Pepsicos acquisition of California-based KeVita. The challenge for most live fermented beverages makers is that it is difficult or impossible for them to both claim to contain live microorganisms and to control the spontaneous carbonation in bottles, cans and other standard retail beverage containers. Lab Lab faced the same problems but have now developed and tested methods to control carbonation of our first liquid products.

There is a similar interest in adding probiotic ingredients to food and fodder, and the most chosen route seems to be the use of freeze dried microorganisms. Freeze drying is detrimental to the viability and vitality of the microorganisms as documented by many scientific articles and industrial practices. With our live culture and carefully tuned dehydration techniques Lab Lab has made additives of probiotic microorganisms, which are rapidly rehydrated during consumption.

Compared with known industrial fermentation processes, Lab Lab’s methods are much faster and seem to create more and better aroma, taste, and structure. New scientific evidence suggests that our methods preserve much more of the original nutrients and aromas of the fermented plants; and even that our fermentation gives way to new and more nutrients than other industrial food processing methods (which by cooking, homogenisation etc eliminate nutrients).

We have studied the genetic makeup of our starter culture, as well as prior art and formulated draft patent texts to possibly protect our intellectual property. So far, we decided that we stand to lose more by filing a patent, for which reason we protect IP via industrial secrecy methods.

Strategically, and to avoid straddling too much, Lab Lab’s future lies in being an innovative development/ prototyping entity, implying that we must 1) liaise with sales and marketing companies for Lab Lab’s own brand to effectively reach the market and 2) spin off new companies to handle our B2B ventures.