In 2014, Axel saw the potential of a mycelium biomaterial while participating in a Synthetic Biology competition at MIT. He took the idea to his brother Alexis and their friend Bárbara González Rolón, who has a PhD in Materials Science.
Bárbara introduced the brothers to a government innovation grant. When investors fell through, Alexis contributed his life savings on the brothers' behalf, Bárbara supplied the rest, and the three founded a new company to biofabricate mycelium materials in only five days.
Working in his mother's laboratory, Axel grew the first pieces of mushroom material at a lab scale as proof-of-concept.
POLY from the Greek polus/polloi meaning much/many
BIO from the Greek bios meaning life
ON from the Latin suffix meaning an entity that performs an action indicated by the root word
Polybion™ is an entity that develops multiple life technologies.
But despite working tirelessly for nine months, Axel struggled to replicate the experiment on a pilot scale. Meanwhile, Alexis focused on business development.
Demoralized and close to giving up, Axel returned to the lab one day to discover the experiment had worked. He interpreted it as a sign from the universe to continue. They called this biomaterial Fungicel and named the company Polybion™.
Fungi Lab was built by Axel, Alexis, and the company’s first two employees, Jorge and Hugo, in a basement. They created the incubator and further installations with their bare hands.
Polybion™ thrived for the next four years on awards, prizes, and government grants.
Alexis made Polybion™ his full-time job.
They saw the opportunity this presented, since no one was innovating with bacterial cellulose; then hired Turella Manríquez to lead the new endeavour as Celium's lead project manager.
Axel realized he could use locally produced agro-industrial fruit waste to feed the bacteria, creating a circular production model. They named this cell-based leather alternative Celium™ and began producing it in the lab optimally located 30 miles away from Mexico’s biggest tanning hub, León Guanajuato.
By now the next-generation materials industry was gaining traction, and some key stakeholders came on board to help define the company’s direction: Ariel Gómez Ortigoza, advisor in business development; José Luis Hernández, advisor in large-scale fermentation production and scaling; Eduardo Parra, financial advisor; and Manuel Aguilar, PhD, genetic and scientific advisor, who later became the company’s CSO.
Later that year, Polybion™ became Blue Horizon's first investment in next-generation materials space. Now based in Spain, the company closed a multi-million euro financing round.
and hiring a world-class team–including Diogo Domingues Barbosa da Frada as COO, Gabriela Irastorza Dragonné as Head of Communications and Culture, and María Montserrat Cabrera Gutiérrez as Head of People and Talent.
We strive to do more with less for the benefit of our planet. We are growing a better future one cell at a time.
Our success is the result of the individuals who inspired us, supported us, and trusted our ability to break schemes and change paradigms.