Today sugar is the biggest enemy of millions of diabetics, healthy lifestyle supporters or just whoever wants to fit in a pair of skinny jeans. Many turn to artificial sugar substitutes, without considering their eventual harmfulness or even taking them as magic bullets for weight loss.
But let’s face it: a sugar-free life is hard. Fortunately, here at Startupbootcamp FoodTech there is a disrupting Irish startup ready to provide a sugar substitute from protein that will satiate our cravings without harming our health: Milis Bio.
Thanks to a cutting edge technology, Milis Bio plans to additionally create flavours such as saltiness without salt, bitter taste blockers for medicines and much more.
We met Michael Sheehan, CEO at Milis Bio, to have a closer look at their winning business idea.
He was recently awarded with the title of Cork city’s Best Young Entrepreneur, and is now competing for Ireland’s best young entrepreneur at IBYE.
G: “When did you start working at the idea?”
The company was born while I was still in college at University College Cork. I was a neuroscience student, fascinated by nutrition and how nutrients such as sugars and sweeteners impact on the brain. One of my best lecturers was Dr.Paul Young, a biochemical genius with over 20 years of experience in world class institutions such as Duke Univesity and the European center for Molecular Biology at Heidelberg. I approached Dr. Young about applying a technique that he described in a lecture to generate the next generation of sweeteners, a range of products that would have all of the taste and none of the side effects of common sweeteners, using proteins. The day after I finished my final exam we signed the documents making us co-founders of Milis Bio.
G: “What is the problem Milis Bio is solving and how?”
Milis Bio is an Irish Food technology startup seeking to make our relationship with flavour a lot sweeter. Beginning with a protein based sweetener, the company is creating a process that will efficiently produce low calorie, non artificial, high potency ingredients entirely made of proteins. The proteins will have flexibility of other characteristics too, with variable heat resistance, pH tolerance, water or oil solubility, and other characteristics, allowing the company to generate bespoke products to suit different industrial demands of food processing. Beginning with a sweet protein set to be completed in November 2017, the company will then target Umami flavour to replace Monosodium Glutamate, a bitterness blocking flavour for foul tasting medicines, a neutral pH sour flavour, and even the holy grail: Saltiness without salt.
G: “You were recently awarded as Cork’s Best Young Entrepreneur and you’re now attending the Regional Final. How do you feel?”
Determined! I am delighted that I have this opportunity to promote my company and network at the highest levels of entrepreneurship in Ireland, as any founder would be. As well as this however I feel responsibility to showcase the opportunities available for young people with big ideas in biotech and food tech. It can seem daunting or impossible to make it in such a high tech industry, seemingly competing against pharmaceutical and food industry giants with better access to resources, especially as a young person with almost no CV. I want to be an example that with the best team for the job, support from outstanding local government initiatives and accelerators, and the determination to make it happen, a young person can take their big idea all the way.
G: “How do you expect to arrive at Demo Day?”
We are about to enter into the most intense and exciting period of our company’s brief history. In the next 6-9 months we will undergo a round of seed fundraising (investors curious to learn more should please get in touch) hit a serious technical milestone in February, and then produce our first product in November. Throughout this period we will be making contact with potential customers in different geographical markets and growing our team, especially in research and development. We are currently in the running for a national entrepreneurship competition in Ireland and will hopefully be speaking at a number of great food tech events also. All in all, we could not be more excited or prepared for the opportunities and challenges ahead of us, and Demo day is going to be a huge checkpoint for us to showcase how we are doing during this incredible period.
G: “What’s your main goal for 2017?”
Broadly speaking, we will be securing the future of Milis Bio. Our dream today is a protein based sweetener. In 2017 our R&D team will make this dream a reality, and a great investor or investors will join us to transform this reality into a gold mine!
More specifically, our goals are to secure a seed round, produce our first product, and prepare a market and supply chain for after passage through regulatory processes. It’s going to be a great year for us, and our whole team can’t wait to see what we make of these challenges and opportunities!
Read also our previous FoodTech Startup Of The Week posts: