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Simbiosis: A Journey of Innovation, Science, and Female Empowerment

Simbiosis goes beyond: The scientific startup that empowers women in rural communities in Peru highlights, now more than ever, the importance of promoting scientific entrepreneurship in the country.

The scientific startup that empowers women in rural communities in Peru highlights, now more than ever, the importance of promoting scientific entrepreneurship in the country.

Simbiosis isn't just about selling mushrooms; it's about changing lives. By sourcing edible wild mushrooms from Peru's highlands, particularly pine forests, they've not only built a sustainable business but also uplifted over 4000 women in rural communities, making them vital contributors to their families' livelihoods.

In 2021, Simbiosis received assistance from Swiss EP when they were looking to do fundraising. Now, three years later, we know they managed to raise the expected amount, but their story begs the question: What lies beyond their initial success?

In recent years, Simbiosis has achieved significant milestones. Firstly, they expanded operations to six communities in Peru, resulting in increase of 250% in mushroom production ready for sale. This growth was bolstered by securing significant partnerships with key clients, including Sibarita, a prominent Peruvian spices company, and Borde and Sabarot, major spices distributors across Europe. Presently, Simbiosis has not only established a strong foothold in Peru but has also extended its reach into Spain, France, Poland, and various other countries.

To maintain their renowned quality, Simbiosis established Peru's first certified mushroom processing plant in the province of Ferreñafe, in the department of Lambayeque. Margaret Manayay, Co-Founder, even pursued specialized studies in Spain to further enhance their products.

However, amid their triumphs, Simbiosis faced a challenge: bridging the gap between science and business. Transitioning from a purely scientific mindset to one grounded in entrepreneurial acumen required dedication and adaptation. While they may still be navigating this new paradigm, their commitment to entrepreneurial success is undeniable.

Throughout Simbiosis' journey, Olga Timoteo, Director of the Diploma in International Management of Technology and Innovation at Cayetano Heredia University, has undeniably played a pivotal role in propelling their growth forward. Even today, she continues to provide invaluable support as required. Back in 2021, during her tenure as the director of BioIncuba, incubator of Cayetano Heredia University, Olga sought assistance from Swiss EP to aid Cesar, Margaret, and Jefferson, the founders, in devising a comprehensive work plan to streamline decision-making for potential investors interested in Simbiosis, an incubated startup by BioIncuba, by the way. Under the guidance of Gonzalo Pérez-Taiman, Founder and Partner at Arpegio, they tirelessly worked for over 5 weeks to consolidate a 5-year business plan and an investment expense plan.

Their perseverance bore fruit as they secured a capital injection from the Milla Goñi Family Foundation, and angel investors, needed to win a public grant which allowed them to propel growth and expand, thus potentiating their impactful work.

Simbiosis is just one example of Peru's untapped scientific potential. With the right support and encouragement, countless scientific ventures could contribute to the country's sustainable development.

Olga Timoteo emphasizes: "There is still a long way to go in terms of developing a scientific startup ecosystem. Investments directed towards this type of entrepreneurship need to be promoted, supported by specific policies. The process of bringing scientific entrepreneurship to market involves significant challenges and time, which are quite different from other types of ventures."

Fostering the scientific entrepreneurship ecosystem in Peru demands sustained dedication, forward-thinking vision, and a heightened risk appetite from investors. Promoting the training of scientific entrepreneurs and the creation of instruments that facilitate and support their ongoing development are essential steps towards this goal. By nurturing ventures like Simbiosis, Peru not only enhances its reputation for quality but also generates employment and opportunities in underserved areas.

On this path towards a brighter future, let's acknowledge that each incremental stride, every investment in innovation, and all backing for scientific entrepreneurship brings us nearer to achieving a world where science and technology harmonize with society and the environment.