Innovation Grant Enables Leep Foods to Overcome Production Bottleneck


Leep Foods (also known as Empire Medicinals) is in the business of growing mushrooms that help conscious eaters make delicious meals without sacrificing health and nutrition. The company takes a range of agricultural byproducts produced by businesses in the Western / Upstate NY region, and grows high-quality, certified organic, specialty mushroom species like Shiitake, Oysters, and Lions Mane.

"FuzeHub has been a blessing. As a small and growing company elevating the mushroom industry, we are grateful to have had FuzeHub’s support in addressing such an important process bottleneck to the growth of our business. "
George Zheng

The Challenge

George Zheng, co-founder of Leep Foods, and his team needed money to make the debagging of its spent mushroom blocks a more efficient process. The mushroom blocks are sent to local farmers for use as compost.

The Solution

Leep Foods applied for a 2018 FuzeHub Innovation Challenge Grant and received $9,950. It used the money to design and build a prototype debagging machine that could safely and effectively separate the plastic bag outer layer from the spent biomass inside, after the mushrooms had been harvested.

Outcomes / The Impact

The debagging machine enabled Leep to streamline its process and free up two hours of work time for two of its technicians. The company also learned what it would take to improve the machine in preparation for more debagging capacity needs as Leep continues scaling up production.

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