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Transcript: Regenerative Design for a Circular Economy in Buildings & Construction with Ehab Sayed

Transcript: Regenerative Design for a Circular Economy in Buildings & Construction with Ehab Sayed

SEE THE SHOW NOTES AND LISTEN AT: Regenerative Design for a Circular Economy in Buildings & Construction with Ehab Sayed

Katherine Whalen [00:00:06] Hey, they're Getting in the Loop, listeners. Ever wondered what can be done in your industry to help create a more circular economy? To mark the one year anniversary of the Getting in the Loop Podcast, I've put together a short e-book to help you navigate key circular trends in textiles and apparel, ICT and electronics and packaging and it includes links to related reports as well as relevant Getting in the Loop podcast episodes. It's yours to receive when you join up to our podcast newsletter at CircularSectors.GettingInTheLoopPodcast.com. So head over to our website to get your copy of the Circular Sectors Navigator. That's again, CircularSectors. GettingInTheLoopPodcast.com. 

[00:00:52] Hi, I'm Katie Whalen. And join me each week as I talk with experts around the globe about Circular economy. You'll find out what's being done to make it a reality and if it can really solve the problems it promises. It's time for Getting in the Loop. 

[00:01:07] Welcome back to the Getting in the Loop Podcast. I'm Katie. Today, it's the last episode in our series in partnership with the International Society for the Circular Economy. And I'm very excited to introduce to you today's guest, Ehab Sayed. This episode has it all: circular materials, circular design, circular business models. In this episode, you will learn how Ehab's company Biome is using bio based materials to create a company founded on circular economy principles. We'll discover how BIOME is revolutionizing the construction industry with Mycelium, which comes from mushrooms and other plant based materials, as well as circular design strategies like modularity. Plus, find out more about Ehab's upcoming keynote for the inaugural digital conference of the International Society for the Circular Economy. 

[00:02:02] Ehab Sayed is the founder and director of innovation at BIOME and PhD researcher at Northumbria University. He is a sustainable designer, engineer, circular economy strategist and built environment innovator with a passion for creating a circular feature that Medes meets our environmental, economic and human needs. Through extensive research on the global construction industry, he founded BIOME to develop nature inspired construction systems and materials that championed a transformation towards the integration of biological processes in manufacturing. Leading a solid team of passionate and talented designers, engineers, architects, biologists and business innovators from around the globe. He is working towards revolutionizing the construction industry. He is a climate kid, professional, a climate kig certified professional, a member of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Circular economy Club and the UK GBC. And with BIOME has amassed a portfolio of awards and recognition from highly regarded international bodies. 

[00:03:09] If you've been listening to the Getting in the Loop Podcast this month, then you know that we've partnered with the International Society for the Circular Economy ahead of their inaugural conference on July 6th, 7th of 2020. 

[00:03:23] We've been giving the opportunity to meet some of the key people involved in the conference, like Walter Stahel, who is the honorary president of the society, as well as Anders Veekman and Ehad Sayed, who are keynote speakers for the event. To learn more about and register for the digital event, I've made sure to include a link to the society's website in the show notes of this podcast episode. So head over to GettingInTheLoopPodcast.com to find out more and also listen to some of the previous episodes. 

[00:03:59] One more announcement before we get into today's episode, the Getting in the Loop Podcast will be taking a break from our regularl scheduled programing for the summer and resume in September. Make sure you subscribe to the podcast wherever you listen to this podcast so that you can get notified when we resume and if any bonus content airs. 

[00:04:20] Thank you so much for coming on the Getting in the Loop Podcast. I'm so excited to dive into Biome today with you. But before we get started, maybe you can just tell us where you're calling from. 

Ehab Sayed [00:04:32] Absolutely. So I'm calling from London, UK. Thank you very much for inviting me to take part in the podcast.

Katherine Whalen [00:04:39] Yes, super, super excited. How is everything going in terms of the Covid situation where you are? 

Ehab Sayed [00:04:48] Yes. So the Covid situation is very interesting, I guess, because we're part a localized company practicing the circular economy. We manage to really cushion the blow quite a bit. We've actually done quite well throughout the transition and we've managed to be able to secure a lot of the work and the experiments that we had running. So, yeah, we did quite well, and also I think the time that people have had to sit at home and reflect and ask a lot of questions about the way that we are currently running our economies and the manufacturing practices have created a bit of an opportunity for new ways of looking at the economy, new ways of bringing products to market, and just yet allows us to really get some really interesting conversations, go and get some major stakeholders. 

Katherine Whalen [00:05:40] That's great to hear that. That's kind of maybe-- Yeah, it's not such a nice situation, but it seems that you've been able to take it and and you're working to make something good come out of it. So I'm happy to hear that. 

Ehab Sayed [00:05:55] Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. I think it is obviously a very tragic time for a lot of people. I personally actually gold symptoms of the virus that really seriously ill as a result. So I have seen both sides of it. But I think from a company perspective, it just seemed like a really great option to pause, reboot and really rethink everything. And it's really proven to us that the circular economy and localized supply chains are really the way forward this year building and resilience locally as well as globally. 

Katherine Whalen [00:06:31] Yeah, well, I'm glad that you seem to be back to normal or feeling better, and I'm able to have this chat with me. Yeah, but let's unpack. So Biome, can you tell us just a little bit of a general introduction? Because I think there's-- You've already mentioned so many things I want to discuss in terms of like local production and and what your company is all about. So let's just start off with a general overview and introduction. 

Ehab Sayed [00:06:57] Absolutely. So Biome I guess you can call this philosophy company. We call ourselves a slogan is the future home. And that's because everything we do really is to work towards a more regenerative and sort of future. We are research and development led company, but we're also by a manufacturer and we have a number of products and services that we offer. Our aim really is to revolutionize the construction industry and bring about a bit of a fire revolution in the way that we produce, the way that we do business. And we're trying to make sure that such radical and groundbreaking technologies that we're coming up with and are delivered in a very ethical and equitable manner locally as well as globally. We've created a mushroom based insulation or a mycelium insulation product, and that's going to be launched at the end of this year. We've got our first manufacturing facility currently being built and it'll be operational for Baucus. And we'll take a few months to calibrate things and get ready. But we've got all this going out at the SBA, which is really exciting. We've also got another material that we developed called O or Organics that's used by components. And it's a sheet material that's altitude's or agricultural waste that's completely natural. It's, I guess, comparable to things like MTF or OSB. And we're developing that into a plant based concrete, which is quite an exciting prospect. We've also developed an interlocking construction system which will eventually combine all of our materials, and that's the to speed motion around two to three years time. 

Katherine Whalen [00:08:48] Oka. So we have some short term things on the horizon and then we have some long, longer term projects. But this sort of thing that's tying them all together is that they're for building the built environment, buildings and construction, if I hear you right. 

Ehab Sayed [00:09:05] And also, I guess the core of our philosophy is taking inspiration from nature. We can see that over the four billion years that the natural world is bold. There's been so much refinement and dispensation, really sheets of engineering that we can learn so much from. So what we do is we look at real needs in the industry, a marathon with some absolutely genius innovations from nature and come up with some solutions for them. So we look at all products as basically a manifestation of that philosophy and take inspiration, nature and only having a positive impact at every step of the process, socially, environmentally and economically. 

Katherine Whalen [00:09:49] So I guess you would call that biomimicry? 

Ehab Sayed [00:09:52] Absolutely, yes. Yeah. 

Katherine Whalen [00:09:55] I was a designer. I guess I still am. But like in my past life, I was a designer. And so that was something that I was super fascinated about, like learning about eco design and then biomimicry design strategies. 

Ehab Sayed [00:10:08] And it is really fascinating when you dove into it. You know, there's so many solutions that aren't really brought to light. And more than looking to the way nature approaches problems, you find that there are applications to that. Not just in the products manufacturing processes, but also in business models. So we look at how nature takes into account the changing environments and how species opposed. And we're able to mimic that process to align the incentives and motives of different stakeholders in the industry, to create business models that are truly equitable and take into account of their needs and align their motives. And, you know, basically marry the motives and the offerings with the incentives and the needs. 

Katherine Whalen [00:10:52] Yeah, something you said just then about how to. Take business models and sort of align with the changing environment. Do you have an example of this is the super fascinating for how can you sort of allow to design for changing environments? Maybe you can say say something in connection with one of the products or what you're what you're doing? 

Ehab Sayed [00:11:15] Yes, absolutely. So when you look at, for example, the changing landscape at the moment from our reliance on fossil fuels or petrochemical materials to trying to find ways of reusing resources that are currently available at industry that are being circulated, and we can find so many opportunities where there is an excess of tools or resources and there are lots of stakeholders that are chasing those excess resources. And the ideas nourishing marrying those stakeholders with solution provides us all solutions or technologies that can make use of that. And then you have the business model starting to emerge. The real critical part is then taking into account the local environment around those resources at deliver unity, local infrastructure and taking that into account when it breaks in those business models. So you make sure that any impacts that is happening on the local community and on the infrastructure environment is only restorative or regenerative or positive. It's easier said than done. It's quite a challenging process, but with the appropriate stakeholders and with the right sort of solid understanding of how economies work. And also with the introduction of A.I., which is a really interesting side of all of this, you can really start to think more intelligently about tying those meats and moats of skep between the different stakeholders and create new business models that are for the future. But what we're saying. 

Katherine Whalen [00:12:47] Yeah, maybe we can dove into the product that's coming-- I've written down the mycelium. I'm going to pronounce that wrong. 

Ehab Sayed [00:12:59] Yes, mycelium. 

[00:12:59] Mycelium which is the mushroom product, mushroom-based product. Of course, anytime I'm saying this wrong, just correct me. And then you have orb which is the sheet material that's like the plant-based concrete. So I'd love to just talk a little bit about maybe you can just tell us what led to, what they are first and then a little bit behind the scenes of getting this out into the world, which I realize is probably a process that's still happening. 

Ehab Sayed [00:13:28] Absolutely. Absolutely. So mycelium is the patch to root structure of mushrooms. It's known as nature's Internet. It's what's usually undergrounds. The mushroom that we're all familiar with is the fruiting body and undergrounds or root system, which is the Musu. And that mycelium is known as nature's biodegrades or as well, because it's one of the main things that biotic rates organic as well as synthetic compounds that are in nature. And we've managed to take that quite far as well to that in a little bit. Yachtie is that when you grow mycelium and they contain Spence, you're able to create a very insulating product. 

[00:14:10] And that's why we realize that if you're looking for insulation that is natural and if you're using biomimicry as your skill to find and philosophy and mycelium with Mosso provides a very great opportunity for insulation. We tested that against industry standards and we found that we were achieving values that are two to three times any other natural products in the market and comparable to the most premium synthetic insulation materials on the market. And that was that was quite a revelation. And then you look at the fire resistance properties. So I see them and you realize that because it's so pointless and spot, which means that it's got a lot of costs and a high concentration of content within the mycelium itself and contents usually found in seashells. It's a very hard material and it provides a local strength as well. But it's not really qualified. It's like a natural fire retardant. So without adding chemicals or additives or coatings, you get renegades by resistance and natural material. When it comes to the health and wellbeing properties, again, when we tested against sentence Timika BSE or the volatile organic compounds that are emitted from materials throughout their life. We got an A plus rating, which is the highest possible rate and you can guess that it was there is about three doses released, that it's about the size and those seeds are like flavorings and probably came from our lab rather than from here. So, yeah. So I think it's sort of ticks all the boxes and now we're continuing to do more testing. So that by the time we start production and start taking orders, that all of the industry certification and the accreditation process is. Complete to show you a place where you can watch as to get into the market. 

Katherine Whalen [00:16:01] And so at the end would be like going having this insulation for house housing developments or any sort of new construction project. 

Ehab Sayed [00:16:12] Absolutely. So housing. Also, we're looking at prefabricated circular construction systems that it could be integrated within. But we're also looking at quite unusual use, just like insulates trains and insulating pipes and things like that. So as an insulator, it's just quite interesting, too. 

Katherine Whalen [00:16:32] Yeah. Yeah. From what you're saying, I basically heard, like, nature has a solution and it's probably better than the synthetic solution that we have come up with. 

Ehab Sayed [00:16:45] Yes. I mean, you find that quite often. I mean, you look at air conditioning and ventilation systems. I mean, you look at how termite mounds are able to maintain an incredibly precise temperatures and bury those throughout the year. And it's all done possibly throughout the intelligence of the structure of the actual mound. So we tend to look at sort of manmade solutions as quite a primitive approach when compared to nature inspired solutions. And that's sort of what drives us to use biomimicry as a as a source of inspiration. 

Katherine Whalen [00:17:18] Yeah, and I'm curious and population and listeners are also curious, how did you get started on this journey? Because you're the founder of BIOME. And so kind of did you have this big epiphany moment? Was it during like a design or engineering class or you're like, we need to do this better? Yeah, yeah. 

Ehab Sayed [00:17:37] So I saw what I was doing, my master's burnout, doing the best that actually I carried out projects as a two year project looking at waste streams in the construction industry. I saw it by just looking at wastrels in the UK for the figures from out construction and the amount of resources that are just going straight to land. We're not actually being used to was quite shocking. And I made an evidence stop focusing on that. I realized one of the main variables or one of the main causes to creates and that waste was people's perceptions and the way that we see buildings. The technologies are available. There were a lot of really interesting materials that aren't really scaled yet that that could help solve some of these problems or the perceptions around natural materials around you. Innovations didn't really allow for those to get very far. So I decided to develop a into Volcom construction system inspired by the way carbon molecules bind together. And it basically allows buildings to be deconstructed at any stage of their lives. It doesn't need any Bindi's or any permanent customers. So the building, almost like a jigsaw puzzle, fits into one another and you create a building around its side. You can adjust it and reconfigure it so it can basically shrink and grow in cool to see occupant's needs and chooses to build times for about months, five percent plus by 70 percent. And environmental impact is actually positive, so reduces the impact by hundred and twenty percent. And I got really excited with it or brought it to the industry. 

[00:19:20] And everyone I met said, you have to patent this, you have to take it forward. That's for the business at the time. It's just been a candle chop and it goes down the moment of a career. So I decided, Watson said, and it's not cheap and it stands to almost 60 countries globally. So the pattern is as fun at the moment. But at the time of putting the science of the company to motives developing and very quickly, I realized that all of the materials I was looking at and they included things like ether, concrete and board materials that are natural and also some natural insulation products. Everything that I felt really meant all of my militance, sustainability and social targets was either still at a research stage, wasn't quite scalable, or was just very extortionate when it comes to price and and wasn't really viable. And at that point, I decided to keep it and focus more on the material side of things because it felt like that was really one of the major issues. The construction system was developed to change perceptions and change how we interact with buildings. 

[00:20:34] You can't really create that without looking at the materials first. I was very lucky to be able to bring on board some incredible scientists, designers and engineers. Some things like NASA, you know, are really intelligent people and a lot of value to the company. And we saw it's about the normal cereal's. We knew that mycelium most use some small scale and things like packaging and product design. And we just couldn't help. Let's see the incredible insulation to of it. And when we did some of our own testing on it, we realized this is an absolutely gold material for insulation and construction. And so we focused all of our energy on developing that. And also, it's about time we decided to look at both materials and sheet materials. So there's a huge need to look at replacement for that as well, because all of the Bible full of materials that are currently available that are in plastic, have really high concentrations of formaldehyde, which is really terrible for our health in so many ways and also in terms of sustainability. So that led us to go down the roots of the Kamat waste resources. We looked at feeds and agricultural waste. We actually saw to orange peels and coffee grinds and also coffee shops. And we developed a completely natural organic find that's actually edible. 

[00:22:02] I don't know, chemicals or anything like that. And once it's mixed with the restrooms and process, it becomes a very solid and rigid material. But it's got even better mechanical processes than some of the board materials that I use at the moment. And so very quickly, we started to develop one material to the other to get to where we're ready to go and ship construction system. And I guess maybe to give you a little bit of background about the construction system, it's sort of penalized. It's nice out to the concrete, both material and the insulation material, which makes things better about while we're going down there. It's about those materials in particular. 

Katherine Whalen [00:22:45] Yeah, I love it. So you had this overarching goal of this interlocking construction system, but then you realized to make this possible, you didn't have specific materials to actually fit it. So then you went out and said, well, we're going to make these. Yeah. We need you. 

Ehab Sayed [00:23:06] Exactly. It's definitely not the easiest route to take. And it would have been easier to potentially use some of the other more tangible, less socially impactful materials that are on the market. But we really wanted to sorts a bit of a buy revolution. We wanted to sell something. We wanted to change perceptions. And with that comes a big concentration on business models, because in order to create materials that are considered natural and by your base, we didn't want to create a new problem where you've got giant pieces of land being used to create that type of cultural or organic matter. And we realized that there's a whole goldmine in every city, in every industrial space and of fine products and questions that are being created, being generated and even going into, you know, burning them for energy or other sorts of solutions that may not be the most sustainable. Or, you know, they have a more negative impact, arguably, than just putting them in. And so in some ways. So we decided to make use of that. And the way to do that is by working with really large organizations that already create such huge amounts of waste and trying to replace trees and allow them to meet their secularity goals, that sustainability goals by letting those students from them and providing them with a bit of a carbon credit because of the materials production processes are actually negative and are working with us. They're able to meet their goals. They're able to also save on the costs of disposing of those restrooms. And we're able to provide of supplemental production process with the appropriate resources. 

Katherine Whalen [00:24:58] So it's really creating this shared value that you were talking about earlier. Yes. Yeah, yeah. 

Ehab Sayed [00:25:05] Yeah, absolutely.. 

Katherine Whalen [00:25:06] Yeah, and it's kind of like a little bit of an industrial symbiosis, a bit in terms of taking this these wasted resources from companies and then and being able to take it and use it as something useful for you, for your organization. 

Ehab Sayed [00:25:23] Yeah. I think symbiosis is a really important word. And that's exactly the type of approach you take when building those relationships. It's all about understanding their pain points on the signs and being needs that they have that we can fulfill. And tying those two together. So creating a symbiotic relationship with some tab and also ends up with a much more well consumed and holistic products and through those collaborations. 

Katherine Whalen [00:25:52] And you've touched on this as well as a lot in terms of talking about how you work with your with your partners and the various stakeholders. I'm just curious, because I'm part of my research was focused on, like, secular business model. So I'm just. Yeah. We talked about design and the great work that you're doing with design of your interlocking construction system. But is there some some new novel twists to how you're providing these interlocking construction systems to end customers? I would love to hear if there is some twist. 

Ehab Sayed [00:26:29] Yeah. So there is a really interesting side to, I guess, scalability and opera. And instead of going down the more conventional routes of raising round after round of funding and setting up shop and finding traction services that are really possible to set up for us. But also may not be the most assignable approach because of chance for missions associated with that. We decided to go down. And this will scale lots of my guys, by the way, my work in that area. But it's it's looking at how we can scale up in a way that doesn't benefit feio. So scaling up in a way that can distribute the benefits and the wealth that is generated from us providing those materials to the industry. And we came across a social enterprise, both the two, and they actually found us because they were, of course, some funded piece of research that they were carrying out. Showing them to buy based materials is the future, and that's the industry they should go down exploring. And they got in touch with me. They said they're looking to buy base materials. What advice have I got? I said, well, actually, I'm looking at a new way of developing manufacturing. So it seems both social enterprises in the way that, you know, the benefits could be distributed within the community. Turns out they've already also go down a very similar route of what new business models and creates and community businesses rather than charities or social enterprises in a conventional sense. And we grow all sorts of knowledge in our ways of thinking together and created this business model that allows us to partner with social enterprises to set up a jointly owned manufacturing facility in their local community and their local geographical location. That facility is funded through the grant money or money that we raised collectively. And then the process of the facility assets up to 50 between feio and that I can you could see business or a social enterprise and the profit share that goes to the business or the community is to be spent on infrastructure regeneration, improving their schools, improving their education. Also just looking that inspiring entrepreneurial spinoffs from. So let's see. And really just results. And I guess the facility acts as a catalyst for regeneration, a much bigger sense because it creates opportunities locally. It's also used in somebody's groundbreaking or some high tech technologies. And that really gets some people excited and allows them to think of opportunities in a very different way. We're also doing this in the most disadvantaged place in the UK. They've got the lowest social mobility. I think the income for a household not per person is sixteen thousand a year. So that's convention lower than the rest of the country. And so creating a facility like this that creates jobs and allows for profit share was a way to reach good intentions and regions where we've come to create. 

[00:29:47] But it turns out that it just has so many other benefits we haven't considered. For example, local authorities are now inviting best to set up similar services in other countries and in other parts of the UK because basically we're able to help them create that regeneration work. But there you see. Show and support them with that. But also, we're creating a common scene on the Internet for tips reaching. So we're taking a lot of boxes without realizing the sorts of stumbles upon this new idea of work that allows us to scale without requiring such huge capital and putting strain on the management team of the company and allowing us to still continue to practice that ethos the way that we want it. 

Katherine Whalen [00:30:37] It seems like a decentralized approach in some ways. Yeah. 

Ehab Sayed [00:30:43] Absolutely. And I think that's the same approach that we take for Thompson died. So we're obviously generating a lot of IP around the pounds of cheese and all the board manufacturing processes. And so, yeah, we're obviously creating a lot of IP around our manufacturing process and are about technologies. And we know that in order to gain credibility, it's a commercial freedom. We have to go down the patents, includes even can us has to really believe in the ownership of ideas. We understand that we're standing on the shoulders of giants. And every day we come up with is based on a million other ideas from the past. 

[00:31:24] But we're going down the path and some groups and departments and saltiest protect them in order to allow us to be able to distribute the benefit and the wealth generated from them in an ethical way and allow us to in a way that takes into account all the stakeholders. And that benefits both the sorrow, of course. 

Katherine Whalen [00:31:43] Because otherwise you risk having it being taken and potentially applied in a way that isn't aligned with your your values and doesn't do the good that you're trying to do for your company. 

Ehab Sayed [00:31:58] That's correct. Yes. And that's also the question when it comes to licensing. You know, when you have Paxon's, licensing is the easiest way to make money and to grow quite quickly. But when you're licensing festival, the other part of that is the licensee. It's not really in an equitable position when it comes to growth and scalability. If they are this transition any way, they still have to pay the licensing fee best of of five to seven things which make the demand actually a worse position than they were before they took that license in the first place. And that was something that really made us feel strongly about developing this new business approach with social enterprises. And we can also do it with individuals and other organizations. And as long as they are willing to put that profile schedule as a community and towards local regeneration. And yeah, so so we're looking at new ways that our best extract to champion a sector economy, not just in a material flow approach for the sector from the intensive relational models and how we can research and make the wealth and the value that we're creating. 

Katherine Whalen [00:33:13] I love it. I'm just taking it all in and also thinking like, how can I apply this to my own my own work? And yes, it's funky. Yeah, OK, I'm I, I have to follow up with you with the like just for an entire other episode to just talk about, like how you go about setting this up and how to use tips and tricks for, for being less extractive and having these sort of shared. Not the word but the shared commonalities in how to set up all these different organizations and establish this these these partners. I think it's very inspiring and I think it's definitely the more type of circular economy that I would want to see rather than having sort of some big I am just it may make some big powerful people who are in control of the materials, for example. 

Ehab Sayed [00:34:08] Absolutely. I think all of the social inequalities that we're seeing around the world, particularly now more than ever, it's become very much in the public conversation. Those are all indirect results of that sort of more capitalistic approach that became rife in the 80s. And, you know, what we're doing may be seen as focus on materials and technologies. But what we're actually doing is we're directly addressing those social inequalities and those inequities and we're bringing back the power to local communities and creating local civilians. Because when something like a pandemic happens, for example, if you haven't thought that local resilience failed to then pick local same themselves affected massively in what we call a decentralized pockets of power, pockets of value, they sought to support themselves when things like this happen. So so what's happening today has really reassured us and reaffirmed that our approach, you know, could actually become mainstream and could actually become more practiced and then want to be. 

Katherine Whalen [00:35:20] Yeah. So you said decentralized. And I think something that that is happening right now kind of illustrates this decentralization because bio biome is going through a crowdfunding campaign, right? Yes. Yeah. And tell us about what your goal and they tell us about why your you're doing this. 

Ehab Sayed [00:35:44] Absolutely. So from the start, I've been advised by a lot of us, lots of responses to go for, go speak to and push to venture capital firms and go down to being seeding, to funding. But I just felt this Nakulan sort of gut feeling that that's not really the right way to go. That is the right way. If I want to scale up very quickly and sell the company and move on to something else that is appropriate in certain circumstances. 

[00:36:12] But for Biome we really want to change, create a step change in an industry and we want to change perceptions for good and have a lasting, sustainable change. In order to do that, it takes a lot of time and it's really difficult. And you want to be able to have that control and be able to maintain the stamina to be able to continue to work on that mission for a long time. And we felt that the goals and motives of theses and traditional financiers weren't will be along with all our approach. And so we held back from that for the past almost four years and just basically went for friends and family supporting us through our nations, through low interest loans and things like that. We have a lot of friends as well. We actually won the Wages and Polynice Fantastic Prize last year, which provides us and a lot of funding to explore our plastic consuming mycelium strains. It's something I didn't mention, but yeah, mycelium or fungi can consume plastic and synthetic waste streams and actually micrometeorites it, removing all of the toxins from it through the ground, funding through the support from family and friends, and the real generosity of a lot of industry players, a lot of industry groups. We've managed to get as far as we did without giving away equity and without going for conventional forms of investment. We decided to go down the crowdfunding routes. 

[00:37:46] And though, of course, to start an equity crowdfunding campaign, you to find an angel investor or a sort of neat investor to start the process. And it took us about nine months to secure the appropriate angel investor. And that's not because we couldn't find anyone. We have a lot of theses from around the world actually offered to take part in this, but we refused that because, again, we wanted to make sure that. And the long term approach is ingrained in that investor that comes on board. We found the absolute perfect, somewhat philanthropic investor, but also has A, B, C, and understands the value of business in the long term approach to business. And he's come on board to support us and allows us to bond short crowdfunding campaign and with a crowdfunding campaign. And we just wanted to get as many people around the world as possible involved with this fire revolution because we didn't just want to have one major investor. I have a huge stake in the company and be used to accompany us to service that particular. It needs our motives. But we wanted to decentralize funding and allow as many people as possible to put in anything from 10 pounds to whatever they're capable of putting in to take part in this and continually benefit from it. And because we don't have a conventional exit strategy, we decided to reward investors through dividends that the sortable earlier than usual and are also much more generous than usual. But we still reinvest around 95 percent of our profits in the company. And so we're able to heavily reinvest in our R&D. Our approach also really dangerous, had our investment to invest as its importance and allow them to just be part of this trend for the long term. So, yeah, we're applying again, that whole a pretty symbiotic relationships approach to accounting as well. Crowdfunding is a campaign is now long. It's still alive for a while. So please, if anyone is listening, I'd like to take these ads and check this out on Sivas. And yeah, we're very grateful for everyone that has already supported this. 

Katherine Whalen [00:40:06] Yeah, I'll make sure to put a link to the campaign in the show notes so that listeners can go over there and check it out. Is there a specific amount that you're looking for or just? 

Ehab Sayed [00:40:22] Yes. So we're looking to raise 750,000, our stretch target is 1.5 million. So that's really what we're aiming for. And we've already raised, I think, almost six hundred thousand in the first 10 to 15 days of the campaign. 

Katherine Whalen [00:40:40] Wow, congratulations. 

Ehab Sayed [00:40:42] Thank you very much. Thank you. 

Katherine Whalen [00:40:44] That's that's a super impressive. 

Ehab Sayed [00:40:48] I think it's the right time. I think and people are open to new ways to things. A lot of people for the finance industry actually presented to the World Bank and BNP Filipa a month ago. And I was very sort of candidates in my presentation. I just said that the current economic climate, the current finance finance sector, is not really helping our approach to climate crisis and to social equity. And that needs to change, needs to happen. And I was really surprised. I was expecting quite a bit of backlash on that. But I was really surprised with the acceptance and also the realization that, yes, our economy needs to change and we are working on changing. How can we work together to look at different ways of coping and got our finance sector and our economies? So I think it's just the perfect time for a change to happen. It's a perfect time to rethink our approaches. And, you know, it's a perfect time for a viable solution. 

Katherine Whalen [00:41:52] Yeah. So people who contribute to this crowdfunding campaign, they basically become like share-- Is that shareholders? 

Ehab Sayed [00:42:00] Shareholders. 

Katherine Whalen [00:42:00] They become shareholders in Biome. Yeah. 

Ehab Sayed [00:42:03] Yes. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. 

Katherine Whalen [00:42:05] And since you are spreading around the world as well, I'm just thinking, if people you're talking about, you know, working with local communities and this new way of doing this new way of how you work, would it be part? Is it possible for people to get more involved in this to like set up set up a local company or a manufacturing center indefinitely? Yeah, just absolutely. 

Ehab Sayed [00:42:33] So like I mentioned earlier, we've been invited by governments around Europe to set up. So it's there. But we've also had a lot of sort of innovators, local businesses, social enterprises around the world. Also ask if they can set up a facility in their local community because they feel their community needs it or this needs for regeneration or there's just a lot of resources being way since locally and that they feel that they could come to buy. 

[00:43:06] So absolutely. I think if anyone feels that there's an opportunity anywhere, they'd like to collaborate to work with us on the same base and smiles over months and been Summerset, we'd be more than happy to look into that. I think what we're aiming for is to really establish ourselves quite well in Europe. We're looking at a few projects in India and Ruwanda, potentially as sort of feasibility studies of the business model, how that would work in developing economies. But yeah, we're completely open to new ideas and everyone is interested in being part of this. 

Katherine Whalen [00:43:46] Yeah. Brilliant. So I realize that we--  This conversation has flown by and you are very, you're very busy. So I wanna make sure that we let you go on time. But I had two final things that I wanted to ask you. And the first is you probably already hinted at this already. But you're going to be speaking and giving a keynote at the International Society for a Circular Economy. That's going to be on July 6th and 7th or 7th and 8th, something. One of those dates. We'll have the correct one in the show notes. But maybe you can just-- What can we expect from the keynote? Do you have a specific topic you're gonna be focusing on or is it gonna be just all about that Biome and one product, or is it gonna be kind of giving the overview? Maybe you can just give a hint of what you're gonna be speaking about. Hopefully it's not a rehash of everything we've covered. 

Ehab Sayed [00:44:44] Yes. Can you hear me okay? 

Katherine Whalen [00:44:47] Yes. 

Ehab Sayed [00:44:48] Sorry you cut out a bit.

Katherine Whalen [00:44:50] Yeah, I noticed it cut out as well, so. 

Ehab Sayed [00:44:52] Right. So, yeah. So that's really, really exciting conference about Circular economy. I'm going to be talking about our approaches and the material that we have carved out and offer the industry really practical solutions to implement the circular economy. And also hopefully inspire others to look at both the as these models and will act as business models that take into account the social impact or the social side of the circular economy. We hear a lot about, you know, material flows. When you hear about secularity. But I believe that there's so much more value in applying the circular economy to business models, two dimensional models, and really expanding the circles beyond just material flows and taking into account the finance sector as well. So, yeah, there'll be a bit of a talk that zooms out. It starts from the materials and the physical products we're offering and then zooms out into business models and how we could create a change. 

Katherine Whalen [00:45:56] Yeah, it seems super inspiring. And also what you said in terms of not just looking at material flows, but also considering the economy as a whole. And I think sometimes that's quite left out in the conversations about Circular economy. But at the end of the day, it's about the people and the products that are in economy and how they interact. It's not just about the material flows and so, yeah. 

Ehab Sayed [00:46:18] Absolutely. And I think just bringing back that human aspect to business, I think that's really all that boils down to, take an inspiration from nature and use enough human nature and in business and in a way that it has been quite absent or maybe forgotten about in the past. 

Katherine Whalen [00:46:37] Yeah, well, I look forward to listening to the keynote, and I hope that some of the listeners will also attend the conference as well. So I have the links to that in the show notes as well, so people can find out about that and figure out how they can join. Before we go, I wanna-- Oh, yeah, sorry. Sometimes I get super excited about it. 

Ehab Sayed [00:46:58] You're cutting out. 

[00:46:58] Yeah. So I'm just making a note. The last question that I ask all of the guests is about this game that I created, it's called In the Loop and actually I crowdfunded to raise the capital to produce the game. So a little bit different than the crowdfunding that you're doing. But I completely, you know, hearing, you know, you don't want to bring in venture. We don't bring outsiders. How do we kind of do it the way that we want to do it? So I completely agree in terms of that was my approach for In the Loop. But In the Loop is a a game that is about Circular economy and specifically about materials that are found in the periodic table of elements. So a little bit different than the bio materials that you're working with, because it's like indium tungsten, those types of things. But basically, what I always ask is in the game, you're a product producing company and you have to collect the materials to make your product. But there's different events that happen in the game throughout it that sometimes hinder or also help you in achieving your goal. So these events can kind of range from maybe a pandemic happening or there's an export disruption or different legal situations. And what I always ask the guests is what kind of event do you think that's related to your field would you create for this event of this game if I said, okay, create an event for this game? Do you have any sort of thoughts on that, Ehab?  

Ehab Sayed [00:48:40] So I think the event that I would like to create would be an event in which you don't only take into account financial costs. But you also take into account environmental costs and social costs, and that could be the costs in terms of the emotional impacts that you have on society because of the carbon impacts, because of biodiversity loss, extinction of species. Something that would make things really interesting if we have to operate with an economy where we're not only costing things in accordance to money, but also take into account the social and environmental costs. 

Katherine Whalen [00:49:24] Yeah, that would be a real game changer. Pun intended. 

Ehab Sayed [00:49:27] Yeah. Yeah. I think it would really change our perception of things and I think it will result to that in a more interesting world. 

Katherine Whalen [00:49:37] Yeah. Well, thank you so much, Ehab, for coming on the podcast and sharing about all the great work that you're doing. I wish you the best in the crowdfunding. I'm gonna definitely check that out now after the call as well. 

Ehab Sayed [00:49:53] Thank you so much. 

Katherine Whalen [00:49:53] Yeah. Before we go, can you tell where listeners can go to learn more about you and the topics that we discussed? 

Ehab Sayed [00:50:02] Absolutely. And so our website is Biohm, biohm.com.uk. We're also on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and LinkedIn. And our handle is @biohmhealth, and of course, on the Seedrs website, you can find that campaign at Seedrs.com\biohm. So, yeah. Thank you so much for everyone who is tuned in and we really, really appreciate and grateful for everyone who supported us thus far and really look forward to bringing more people on board. And this really exciting Bio revolution. 

Katherine Whalen [00:50:39] Thank you for listening. I hope you enjoyed this episode. For show notes and links, go to our website at GettingIntheLoopPodcast.com, and while you're there, subscribe to our mailing list to have new episodes delivered to your inbox every Monday. See you next week. 


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About the Show

Getting In the Loop is a weekly podcast dedicated to exploring how to transform to a more circular society. Join host Katie Whalen as she examines the challenges facing our current resource use and discovers alternatives to the ‘take, make, dispose’ way of doing things. Each week she interviews circular economy experts about what they’re doing and learning. Together we'll uncover what circular economy means in practice and find out what's being done to keep our resources in a loop rather than sent to waste.

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