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New FootPrint Coalition Science Engine grants focus on the magic of mushrooms and other fungi

FootPrint Coalition's Science Engine is making a new push to fund early stage scientific research focused on the magic of mushrooms.

Joining existing funding initiatives in areas around environmental justice; applications of indigenous knowledge to the climate crisis; genetic research into climate adaptation and mitigation; machine learning meta-analysis of climate solutions; and research into cellular agriculture; the new focus on mycology will have significant implications for a growing field of environmental research.

Scientific research into mycelium, the fibrous tissues that form the root structures for mushrooms, has already created real innovations and startup businesses that have raised well over $1 billion from investors like us, and firms like Acre Venture Fund (founded by former Obama White House chef Sam Kass), Grant Achatz's Alinea Group, Leonardo DiCaprio, and other well-heeled investment funds.

These companies are transforming mushrooms and mycelium fibers into replacements for meats like chicken and pork, leather alternatives, and even dairy replacements.

Fashion brands and food companies that depended on animals and industrial farming can now turn to more planet-friendly processes that startup businesses like Bolt Threads, Ecovative, MyForest Foods, Perfect Day, MycoWorks, Meati, and others are developing using the humble mushroom.

The new funding opportunity from FootPrint Coalition's Science Engine will provide $50,000 in grant funding to get early stage research into ways that mushrooms can be used for planetary and human health.

Selections for funding will be determined by Antoni Gandia, a former Evocative researcher who's now working on a startup out of Europe focused on mycological applications for human health.

"Fungi are fundamental in the production of bread, beer, cheese, sauces, pigments, antibiotics, industrial enzymes, vitamins, and many other essentials across human civilizations," wrote Gandia.

Fungi are also vital to planetary health. More than 95% of known plants rely on symbiotic relationships with fungi in order to thrive, which directly effects agricultural yields worldwide.

"Plants and planetary ecosystems depend on healthy fungal networks, fungi live as well in our own guts, skin and hair, contributing to our health and moods," according to Gandia.

"The most conservative estimations sum up a total of approx. 3.8 millions existing species of fungi on Earth, from which few more than 120.000 have been identified, which leaves scientists with a gigantic pool of new and unknown interactions, bio-tools and compounds waiting to be discovered."

The $50,000 commitment FootPrint Coalition is making to spur mycological research should yield hundreds of thousands -- if not millions of dollars -- in potential additional funding for applications in ecosystem restoration, material science, biochemistry, medicine, bio pesticides, bioelectronics and alternative food sources.

Any citizen scientist, entrepreneur, inventor, or researcher is free to apply for a grant of up to $5,000 that will be matched by crowdfunding through to fund early initial research.

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