A Finnish startup which produces a potential soy protein replacement using biorefinery by-products has raised more than €1 million in funding.
eniferBio — a spin-off from the Finnish state-owned research body VTT — has developed what it says is a new and sustainable production process for a high-quality fish feed ingredient, and recently received funding for its solution from two funds: Nordic FoodTech VC and Voima Ventures.
The firm produces Pekilo mycoprotein, a form of single-cell protein derived from fungi which is rich in protein and can be used as a raw material for fish feed. It is produced from biorefineries’ underutilized and renewable organic raw material streams.
The technology has been tested and optimized in VTT’s business incubator, VTT LaunchPad.
“We have demonstrated that the single-cell protein manufacturing process works with a variety of industrial by-products which are available globally in huge quantities,” said Simo Ellila, eniferBio’s founder.
“There is scope to replace all the soy protein concentrate used in fish feeds today, a market currently of $2 billion and growing fast. In addition, we have reformed the process so that the produced protein meets the high-quality requirements for fish
With the support of VTT LaunchPad, eniferBio has built networks with the relevant industry partners and fish feed producers, it said. The next step is preparation for pilot production.
“We negotiate with side stream producers and optimize our process for the selected side stream. The number of biorefineries is growing globally and they want to utilize the by-products of their production. “
“It is a new source of income for biorefineries,” noted Ellila. “We have already successfully tested side stream samples from all across the world — India, Thailand, Brazil and Canada. Our objective is to start pilot production of single-cell protein in the beginning of 2021 and to produce enough protein on a fast schedule, which can be tested by the fish feed producers. From there the next step is to build a first industrial-scale plant in Europe, before starting to export the concept further afield.”
eniferBio is the first Finnish investment for its main new investor, Nordic FoodTech, while both investors are investing in a VTT spin-off company for the first time.