Company Ekofungi participated on the “Blue Economy” conference in Madrid

Posted in: News- Oct 07, 2013

The founder of the Ekofung, Mrs. Ivanka Milenković says that it is very difficult to be a woman entrepreneur, especially in the Balkans, but agrees on the other hand that it is full of challenges and that the boundaries are pushed on a daily basis. By setting a personal example and through the development of the project “From Waste to Taste” Mrs. Milenkovic is trying to show that women entrepreneurs can achieve many things and bring change at the same time.

 Ekofungi is a good example of a company which proves that there is always room for innovation and fresh ideas in all of the industry spheres, even when they come from the most traditional businesses. Namely, the company is currently developing new technology for production of edible mushrooms and someone would say that the technology of growing mushrooms has already been developed and perfected, especially having in mind the fact that mushroom cultivation was first noted 4000 years BC in China, but this particular case shows that there is always opportunity for improvement.

 Mrs. Milenković has been in the business of mushroom growing all her professional life and by the year 2000 a place for growing mushrooms was built, which was for the first time organized in greenhouses specially adapted for growing conditions. However by the end of 2009 circumstances have changed and the production of mushrooms stalled mainly due to the enormous production costs and very low price of the final product. The solution was sought in the establishment of industrial production of other types of fungi and based on the idea and draft design of Mrs. Milenkovic, special device for production of substrata for mushroom cultivation has been constructed. Still, two issues were noted: availability and access to raw materials and electricity prices. As a consequence of this, a decision was made to form a separate technological – research and innovation unit within the whole system of their mushroom production process, with an ultimate aim of keeping the production profitable.

 Based on the gained experience of Mrs. Milenkovic, while working on projects realized all over the world focusing on using different type of waste in mushroom production, an innovative technological process for production of edible and medicinal mushrooms was designed. The process is based on using waste on an industrial scale while minimizing energy consumption. This idea was recognized by the Innovation Fund and with the support through the Mini Grants Program in the amount of 72.480 euros, Ekofungi is currently developing a new technology for production of high-quality substrate for edible and medicinal mushrooms cultivation, based on recycled organic and non-organic cellulose waste materials. The innovation is being developed in collaboration with researchers from the Faculty of Agriculture and Institute for Biological Research in Belgrade.

 Furthermore, Ekofungi used the opportunity already in April this year to show their idea and technology by presenting their innovative concept on the world conference Blue Economy, held in Madrid, which gathered innovators and entrepreneurs from all over the world. The innovation of Ekofungi was immediately recognized and already in June and July this year they were visited by representatives of the local authorities of the Limburg province and entrepreneurs from Florida who expressed their wish to apply Ekofungi’s technology in their production processes.