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Registered: 07/26/04
Posts: 13,985
Cultivating black gold
    #3791521 - 02/17/05 03:45 AM (11 years, 8 months ago)

Cultivating black gold
Paul Smaglik
16 February 2005

A PhD student studying plant biology at the University of Sheffield, UK, has combined his taste for mushrooms, his passion for scientific analysis and his growing interest in business to pitch a plan that has turned him into a funded entrepreneur. Paul Thomas, who is working on light signalling in plants, loves truffles, but they are expensive to buy, difficult to find and almost impossible to cultivate.

But he has used his research background to show in the lab that it could be possible to create the conditions under which truffles grow. The black fungus, whose scarcity makes it worth more by the gram than gold, only appears underground on select tree roots in specific soils and climate. Thomas believes that having a rigorous scientific understanding of these conditions means he could, theoretically, start up a truffle plantation.

But graduate students tend not to have the investment capital needed to snap up land in France or Italy. Nor do they have experience or training in starting small businesses. So Thomas entered a local business-plan competition - something that science graduate students and postdocs are increasingly doing. Winning the local competition gave him E2,500 (US$4,600) and the chance to compete for more cash in a BBC reality show called Dragons' Den, where would-be entrepreneurs make quick pitches to people who pledge venture capital to the winner (http://www.bbc.co.uk/dragonsden/episode4.shtml). Thomas was one of the winners there, too, giving up 25% of his company shares for a E75,000 investment.

But Thomas is not about to leave the bench just yet. Truffles take seven years to grow, if all goes right about the time he needs to become an independent investigator. If his black gold comes up, he may have to pick between the bench and the boardroom of his own company

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Registered: 01/07/05
Posts: 2,176
Last seen: 2 months, 19 days
Re: Cultivating black gold [Re: veggie]
    #3792876 - 02/17/05 12:40 PM (11 years, 8 months ago)

i thought truffles were chocolate?

"To get what you've never had, You must do what you've never done."

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work in progress

Registered: 04/11/01
Posts: 8,931
Loc: The Netherlands
Last seen: 3 months, 16 days
Re: Cultivating black gold [Re: LethalX5]
    #3796949 - 02/18/05 04:10 AM (11 years, 8 months ago)


LethalX5 said:
i thought truffles were chocolate?

yeah, can you now imagine why it's so damn difficult to cultivate them? :smirk:

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Registered: 12/10/02
Posts: 16,286
Loc: Dancing In the Streets
Re: Cultivating black gold [Re: stefan]
    #3797633 - 02/18/05 10:59 AM (11 years, 8 months ago)



Got a question about a substance?  Erowid might already have your answer! Have questions about the  mushroom experience? The  Tripper's FAQ may have your answer or someone else might have had your question before.
I know up on the top you are seeing great sights, but down at the bottom we, too, should have rights.
  - Theodor Seuss Geisel Dr. Suess

"I didn't come here to be easily understood" - Steve

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Registered: 08/18/03
Posts: 44,644
Re: Cultivating black gold [Re: gdman]
    #3802337 - 02/19/05 03:20 AM (11 years, 8 months ago)

7 years to grow?? wow.

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