eniferBio raises €1 million in funds to scale up biorefinery byproducts-made feed ingredient
The company will start pilot production of single-cell protein at the beginning of 2021 and produce enough protein to be tested by the fish feed producers.
Finnish startup, eniferBio, that has developed a new and sustainable production process for a high-quality fish feed ingredient, recently raised more than €1 million in funding with Nordic FoodTech VC and Voima Ventures as lead investors.
The company developed a method for producing Pekilo mycoprotein, a form of single-cell protein derived from fungi. Pekilo mycoprotein is a nutritious and protein-rich cell biomass and can be used as raw material for fish feed. It is produced from biorefineries’ underutilized and renewable organic raw material streams and can replace soy meal.
The Pekilo single-cell protein production method was originally developed in Finland by the forest industry as early as the 1970s. As the pulp industry developed, byproducts required for manufacturing depleted, but today similar byproducts continue to be generated in other industries. eniferBio modernized this protein production method with new biotechnology and now can be applied to fish feed production. 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 byproducts that are available globally in huge quantities. There is scope to replace all the soy protein concentrate used in fish feeds today, a market of $2 billion that is growing fast. In addition, we have reformed the process so that the produced protein meets the high-quality requirements for fish feed. The production method is sustainable and enables protein self-sufficiency. The results show that with this method we can build a profitable business,” said Simo Ellilä, founder of eniferBio.
With the support of VTT LaunchPad, eniferBio has built networks with the relevant industry partners and fish feed producers interested in the solution. The next step is the preparation for pilot production. “We negotiated with side stream producers and optimized our process for the selected side stream. The number of biorefineries is growing globally and they want to utilize the byproducts of their production. It is a new source of income for biorefineries. We have already successfully tested side stream samples from across the world - India, Thailand, Brazil and Canada. Our objective is to start pilot production of single-cell protein at the beginning of 2021 and 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,” said Ellilä.
Investors include Nordic FoodTech VC and Voima Ventures
eniferBio is financed by Nordic FoodTech VC, which invests in food technology, and Voima Ventures, which invests in science-based deep tech startups. For the main investor, Nordic FoodTech VC, this is the first investment in Finland while both investors are also investing in VTT's spin-off company for the first time.
“Nordic cutting-edge research provides significant solutions to global food challenges. The continuous change the world is facing is reflected in eniferBio’s solution. In the 1990s, global resources were considered abundant and there was no need for the production of Pekilo protein with its production run down in the early 1990s. Now, however, this historical Finnish invention in its developed form is more relevant than ever. Nordic FoodTech VC's investment strategy is well suited to investing in technology that produces protein from unused byproducts into a growing area of food production,” stated Mika Kukkurainen from Nordic FoodTech VC.
“eniferBio combines the elements of a good startup. Finnish sustainable development innovation has been scientifically further refined and is now being commercialized by an entrepreneurial research team,” said Pontus Stråhlman from Voima Ventures.