Berlin-based food startup Becanex GmbH said it will embark on a €505,000 project aimed at developing a cannabinoid-containing emulsion sufficiently stable for industrial food production.
Becanex, a specialist in the extraction of CBD and other compounds from industrial hemp, received a grant of €227,000 from the Central Innovation Program for SMEs (ZIM) in support of the project. ZIM, which backs R&D initiatives, is a national funding program of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWI).
The company said developing CBD-laden emulsions that are water soluble has been one of the biggest challenges faced by producers who use CBD in food.
“Our goal is to produce an emulsion that is THC-free but otherwise contains all cannabinoids and terpenes found in the hemp plant,” said Sebastian Kamphorst, CEO of Becanex.
With the demand for functional foods containing CBD in a fast growth period, Becanex said it aims to become a leading supplier of cannabinoid extracts for the food industry by developing such ready-to-use formulations. The company said it expects to complete development of the new emulsion by the end of 2022, by which time it also expects to have obtained Novel Food authorization for its CBD extracts.
“We can now transfer our technological lead in extraction to product development,” said Kamphorst. He said the ZIM funding “shows that there is keen interest from the federal side in establishing local research on cannabinoids and their application.”
Becanex was founded in 2018 by Kamphorst and Eral Osmanoglou, who now serves the company as CTO. The company has production facilities in Berlin-Adlershof and employs more than 30 people. Research and development operations are in Holland. Customers include brand manufacturers from Germany, Europe, South Africa and Australia.
The funding application was submitted through Cannabis-Net, a German-Canadian network that supports companies in the BMWI grant application process. Cannabis-Net, which is also funded by the BMWI, also provides participants networking opportunities with other medium-sized cannabis companies.
“The project idea that Becanex can now implement creates new opportunities for the cannabis market and the entire industry,” said Simone Graeff-Hönninger of Cannabis-Net.
Graeff-Hönninger said the Becanex CBD emulsion “provides an interesting starting product for cannabinoid-containing foods,” in light of a recent ruling by the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) that appears to have moved Germany closer to the legal sale of food products based on hemp flowers and leaves.
The high court’s ruling came in a case that started in a German Regional Court, in which unidentified Braunschweig hemp tea sellers were charged with drug trafficking. Throwing out the case, the court said German laws “do not generally prohibit the sale (of hemp flowers and leaves) to end customers for consumption purposes.”
The case is sure to be a factor as Germany goes about realigning its laws with those of the European Union after the European Commission’s clearance of CBD from drug status, its designation as a food, and EU free-trade guarantees were clarified late last year.