FUL Foods moves headquarters to Amsterdam
When a company has to move because they simply outgrew Planet B.io, we couldn’t be more proud. FUL Foods was one of the first companies that settled at Planet B.io. But now, after 2.5 years, they are ready to take the next steps as a successful scale-up company and will continue their journey in developing future-proof food products from microalgae in Amsterdam.
In 2019, Julia Streuli, Sara Guaglio and Cristina Prat saw a big opportunity in one of the tiniest organisms on earth: a type of blue-green microalgae called Spirulina.
The ladies came across Spirulina while researching alternative proteins in the sustainable food sector. This superfood, they learned, was more than just nutritious. It could be grown in a highly resource-efficient manner, converting CO2 into oxygen, nitrogen and nutrients — and had done so for billions of years. It could also be produced with limited freshwater and without the use of arable land or fertilisers and pesticides, unlike most plant-based proteins.
Spirulina, they thought, could be the crucial component they needed to achieve their shared vision: starting a company that proactively addressed climate threats posed by the food system. Those instincts were right. One year later, they co-founded FUL Foods, a foodtech startup with a mission to scale future-proof nutrition through its microalgae-based F&B brand. Since then, FUL has launched a proprietary biorefining technology that recycles CO2 from carbon emissions to produce nutrients.
Drinking blue to go green
Based at Planet B.io, FUL Foods built a “climate positive” business. “Climate positive is less about mitigating or offsetting the adverse effects of a product or company, and more about building our company’s purpose, processes and products to benefit the climate,” explains Streuli, who serves as CEO. “We aim to go beyond ‘neutral’ and do more good than harm through the way we operate our business.”
To produce Spirulina, FUL Foods employs a closed-loop system that converts more CO2 into oxygen and nutrients than it emits. They source CO2 from industrial waste streams and use it as primary carbon source for their microalgae cultivation. “We call this CO2 recycling because our superfood is grown using CO2 that would have otherwise been emitted into the atmosphere by other processes,” says Guaglio, FUL Foods’ COO. Water used during production is also collected and reutilised after Spirulina is harvested. In parallel, the team is working on a project funded by the Dutch government to build a fully circular system.
The result is the ingredient FUL® that is now incorporated in a refreshing nutrient dense drink with a distinctive blue-green colour that has the feel and taste of a soft drink, but without the empty calories, caffeine or added sugars and with all the health benefits of fruit juice and superfoods.
Currently, Revive is available in the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK; in the next two years, it is slated to reach North America, Asia and other European countries.
“Without Planet B.io FUL Foods would not be where it is today,” says Prat, FUL Foods’ CTO. “Planet B.io has been the best place to develop our biorefining process and our first product. We are extremely grateful for the support we have received to help us through those first critical stages, for believing and supporting us from the beginning. The hub offers a great ecosystem of knowledge, and the Planet B.io team helped us personally to get the necessary resources to grow and scale up our operations, from funding opportunities to access to high-value industry expertise. Planet B.io makes the difference between renting a workspace or being helped in all areas to grow your business. The community feels like one big family where everyone supports each other.”
"Our plan is to validate our first product in key markets and do further research to continuously improve and extend our product and ingredient range,” Prat continues. “With our first product, we expanded to the UK last spring and we are currently planning our entry in the US 2023, while collaborating with other FMCG companies to incorporate our ingredients in their products. The Netherlands is the best place to develop our IP and science -based products, but we see opportunities to commercialize microalgae products worldwide."
Cindy Gerhardt, Managing Director Planet B.io: “It’s wonderful to see the progress FUL made during the years they were located at Planet B.io. And I am confident they will continue to grow, as they are just the type of company that knows how to hit the sweet spots in the market. Cristina, Sara and Julia have a vision, a belief and an enormous drive: to develop future-proof food products from microalgae. That drive is what you need as an entrepreneur. Therefore, I am convinced that they, also in Amsterdam, will succeed and further grow their business. We will miss FUL in Delft but fortunately we are well connected and will certainly continue our collaboration within the wider Planet B.io ecosystem.”