• News
  • People
  • Long Read
  • Opinion
  • Weekend Wrap

Breaking News

Finnish green innovations whet investor appetite

Bioalbumen, the animal-free egg white protein developed by Onego Bio, has a neutral taste and functional properties that make it an ideal ingredient for a number of food products.

Onego Bio

Animal-free egg protein and sand batteries have attracted significant funding for Onego Bio and Polar Night Energy, respectively.

Onego Bio has raised around 36.5 million euros in an equity round led by Nordic Ninja, a Japanese-Nordic venture capital firm. Also contributing were Agronomics Maki, EIT Food, Finnish Industry Investment (Tesi), Holdix and Turret.

Business Finland, meanwhile, granted the startup roughly nine million euros in non-dilutive funding.

According to Onego Bio, the funding enables it to continue executing its go-to-market strategy in North America, including by scaling up production to industrial level and expanding its commercial team in the US. The region was chosen as the first-launch market due to a faster regulatory landscape.

The startup is currently partnering with co-manufacturers to speed up the market entry as it continues to finalise its in-house manufacturing plans and pursue non-dilutive funding for building its first manufacturing unit.

Called Bioalbumen, its animal-free protein is produced using patented fungal fermentation technology. It is biologically identical to the main protein in chicken egg white, ovalbumin, containing all essential amino acids, scoring highly for protein digestibility and delivering over 90 grams of protein per 100 grams.

Its neutral taste and functional properties make it an ideal ingredient for replacing eggs at scale and enhancing the texture and performance of various foods, according to Onego Bio.

Thus far, 25 well-known consumer-goods companies have integrated the protein into products such as baked goods, confectioneries, snacks, sauces, pasta and meat alternatives.

Onego Bio is rethinking our collective approach to eggs.

Onego Bio

As planned by Onego Bio, a single full-scale manufacturing unit would have a fermentation capacity of two million litres, enough to match the ovalbumin output of an egg farm with six million laying hens while cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 90 per cent and land use by 95 per cent.

The US had nearly 380 million laying hens at the end of 2022, according to Statista.

Jim Mellon, executive chairperson at Agronomics Maki, pointed out that an animal-free alternative eliminates not only environmental and ethical concerns associated with egg production, but also delivers stability to what can be a volatile market.

“Eggs are an essential part of food business, but with the egg market constantly fluctuating due to avian flu and increased demand for cage-free, manufacturers are challenged to find a viable replacement with a consistent, reliable and safe supply of high-quality protein at an affordable price,” he said.

Co-founders of Polar Night Energy Tommi Eronen (left) and Markku Ylönen.

Rami Marjamäki

Elsewhere, Polar Night Energy has closed a 7.6-million-euro seed funding round to scale up its sand battery technology.

The Finnish startup has recently reported on progress with two collaborative projects aimed at utilising sand fundamentally as batteries that store surplus wind and solar energy as thermal energy, providing protection against electricity supply and price volatility.

The funding round was led by Jonathan Oppenheimer and co-led by Holdix, Stephen Industries and Turret. A South African businessman and social-impact investor, Oppenheimer said Polar Night Energy’s sand battery has the potential to be part of the solution as humankind scrambles to find sustainable ways to live while preserving the planet.

“We’re thrilled with the results of this round, especially given the current challenges in the financing environment,” said Markku Ylönen, co-founder of Polar Night Energy. “We’re excited to enter a new phase of growth and innovation.”

By: Aleksi Teivainen