Finnish food tech Solar Foods has been granted €4.3 million (US$5.21 million) in financing from Business Finland, a government organisation supporting innovation funding and investment. The financing will support the startup’s development project focused on commercialising Solein, the company’s proprietary natural protein ingredient made from thin air, which can be used to create sustainable alternative meat and food products.
The €4.3 million (US$5.21 million) grant from Business Finland will be used to fund Solar Foods’ €8.6 million (US$10.4 million) scale up plan to commercialise its Solein ingredient solution, the world’s first protein ingredient made out of thin air. The latest funding takes the company’s total financing since its inception in 2017 to €24.8 million (US$30 million).
Commenting on the new funding, Solar Foods CEO and co-founder Dr. Pasi Vainikka said: “As a company, we have two important tasks ahead of us: finalising the development of Solein to become market-ready and constructing our demonstration factory. Ever since the founding of Solar Foods, we have enjoyed fruitful cooperation with Business Finland. We are extremely happy about Business Finland’s follow-on capability during the growth of companies like us.”
Business Finland had previously co-financed Solar Foods’ pilot phase to develop Solein. Solein is the Helsinki-based company’s nutrient-rich complete protein ingredient, which is made using air-captured carbon dioxide in a continuous mode.
As a company, we have two important tasks ahead of us: finalising the development of Solein to become market-ready and constructing our demonstration factory.Dr. Pasi Vainikka, CEO & Co-Founder, Solar Foods
The natural fermentation process means that it requires no irrigation, pesticides, fertilisers or open land for animals, making it non-dependent on weather, climate and agriculture – a climate-friendly solution to the production of sustainable proteins across the world, including in tough desert-like environmental conditions. Solar Foods claims that this makes its protein the world’s most sustainable to date.
“Solar Foods is a fine example of a startup that Business Finland’s services and financing can support in the company’s international growth,” said Business Finland account manager Kari Venäläinen, in a statement. “We are happy to join forces for this moonshot: A new and unique ingredient for the humankind that proposes limitless potential for sustainable food production”, adds Venäläinen.
One of the key plans outlined in Solar Foods’ development project include the construction of a new production plant, which will enable the commercialisation of novel food products made with Solein. So far, the startup has already demonstrated the development of over 20 different kinds of products made with the ingredient, including meat alternative formats like burger patties or meatballs.
We are happy to join forces for this moonshot: A new and unique ingredient for the humankind that proposes limitless potential for sustainable food production.Kari Venäläinen, Account Manager, Business Finland
“After carrying out basic engineering, the Solar Foods production facility is now entering the permitting process. Its function is to demonstrate the future of food production,” said Dr. Juha-Pekka Pitkänen, co-founder and CTO of Solar Foods.
Other alternative protein initiatives that Business Finland has recently supported in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which has spotlighted the urgent need to transform the unsustainable and dangerous meat supply chain, include the EXPRO Project, a new co-innovation program that aims to develop plant-based proteins from native crops. Receiving a €2.1 million (US$2.3 million) in funding from the public innovation fund, the project hopes to boost the Finnish plant-based food industry with an eye to position the country as a leading vegan protein exporter.
All images courtesy of Solar Foods.