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Finnish startup Solar Foods has announced a €10 million (~US$11.9 million) in fresh capital from the Finnish Climate Fund, becoming the state-owned sustainability-focused fund’s first investment. The new loan will enable Solar Foods to kickstart commercial-scale production of Solein, its proprietary protein made from air, with its industrial facility in Finland set to fully operational in early 2023.
Solar Foods has received a €10 million (~US$11.9 million) capital loan from the Finnish Climate Fund to fund its plans to build an industrial-scale factory to produce Solein, the company announced on Thursday (April 8). Solein is the Helsinki-based company’s nutrient-rich complete protein ingredient, which requires only carbon dioxide being air-captured in a continuous mode, and electricity to run its facility.
The latest capital injection, which brings Solar Foods’ total financing to date to €35 million (~US$41.6 million), is the first-ever investment made by the Finnish Climate Fund, a state-backed organisation dedicated to supporting domestic companies and projects that will move the country towards net-zero. Solar Foods’ technology was born out of research from the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and LUT University in Finland.
It will be the world’s first commercial facility to produce food by using carbon dioxide and electricity as its raw materials.Pasi Vainikka, Co-Founder & CEO, Solar Foods
Previously, Solar Foods was granted €4.3 million (US$5.21 million) from Business Finland, another government-run organisation supporting Finnish innovation and managed by the country’s Ministry of Employment and the Economy.
Solar Foods says the latest loan will help construct its first demonstrator facility, which will be operational by 2023, and will feature a “Solein Experience Hub” and a food bar to offer citizens a “new level of transparency” in protein production.
On display in the facility will be the natural fermentation process that Solar Foods uses to produce Solein, which means the public will be able to see how protein can be manufactured without irrigation, pesticides, fertilisers or open land for animals. From production to plate, the entire supply chain is not dependent on water, climate or agriculture, and can even be constructed in desert-like conditions.
According to Solar Foods, Solein emits only 1% of the greenhouse gas emissions compared to animal meat proteins and 20% compared to plant-based proteins, making it “the most responsible protein in the world”.
Solein vanishes into daily meals, while at the same time maintaining its rich nutritional value and offering a unified solution that caters to virtually every imaginable meal of today and tomorrow.Juha-Pekka Pitkänen, Co-Founder & CTO, Solar Foods
“It will be the world’s first commercial facility to produce food by using carbon dioxide and electricity as its raw materials. We want to disconnect food production from the accelerating consumption of natural resources. It is fascinating to be part of making this happen,” said Pasi Vainikka, co-founder and CEO of Solar Foods.
The air protein produced by the startup can be incorporated into a number of alternative protein food products, such as burger patties and meatballs. Solar Foods says it has already developed more than 20 food products containing Solein.
“Solein vanishes into daily meals, while at the same time maintaining its rich nutritional value and offering a unified solution that caters to virtually every imaginable meal of today and tomorrow,” explained Juha-Pekka Pitkänen, co-founder and CTO of Solar Foods.
Commenting on the decision to back Solar Foods as its first investment, CEO of the Finnish Climate Fund, Paula Laine, said: “The mission of the Climate Fund is to boost significant climate solutions into an industrial scale [to] participate in supporting the carbon neutrality targets of the E.U. and Finland. By taking part in the investment, we’ll enable Solar Foods’ factory sooner and thus opening a faster path to emissions reductions.”
All images courtesy of Solar Foods.