The Finnish start-up is embarked on an €8.6 million development project to produce protein from air
Solein food ingredient
Solar Foods produces Solein, a complete protein for use as food ingredient

Solar Foods has received €4.3 million of new financing from Business Finland, the Finnish government organisation for innovation funding and trade, travel and investment promotion. The grant supports the company’s €8.6 million development project for commercialising Solein, a natural protein made from air.

The grant from Business Finland takes the total financing the start-up has raised to €24.8 million.

Solar Foods’ chief executive 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.”

Solar Foods is the first company to produce food by using air-captured carbon dioxide in a continuous mode, including the preparation of the actual final food products.

Solein: The protein of the future

Solar Foods produces Solein, an entirely new kind of nutrient-rich protein, by using air and electricity as its primary raw materials.

Solein protein powder
Solein protein powder

Based on natural fermentation, this process revolutionises food production – the production of Solein is non-dependent on the weather, climate, or agriculture.

“Solar Foods is a fine example of a start-up that Business Finland’s services and financing can support for international growth,” said Kari Venäläinen, account manager at Business Finland. “When vision, innovation, the right team, and resources all play in tandem, Business Finland can give a significant boost to the growth story of a company.”

Having previously co-financed Solar Foods’ piloting phase and the company’s business incubator project with European Space Agency, Business Finland continues its support by financing the development of the world’s first food produced from thin air.

Venäläinen added: “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.”

´Route to commercialisation

A new production plant, the demonstrator, will be a key milestone in Solar Foods’ path in reaching its vision of changing the way food is produced.

Vainikka explained: “Our next target is to finalise funding for the demonstration factory investment. For the demo, we have already covered basic engineering, with also good options for a location that we are about to set in the upcoming weeks.”

Dr Juha-Pekka Pitkänen, Solar Foods’ chief technology officer and co-founder, said the Solar Foods production facility is now entering the permitting process. “Its function is to demonstrate the future of food production.”

Facilitating a gateway to future foods

Planned to be operational in the near future, Solar Foods’ new production facility will enable the commercialisation of new food products based on the novel platform ingredient Solein. So far, Solar Foods has already developed over 20 different kinds of food products that utilise Solein.

With basic engineering done and permitting well underway, both Solar Foods’ demonstration facility and the company’s core team are set for a promising future.

Scientist from Solar Foods in front of the bioreactor

The positive direction, supported by a successfully closed Series A financing round, sees the team expanding further with new recruits ready to join the cause.

Vainikka explained that Solar Foods’ vision is to change the way food is produced, and the products manufactured with the demonstrator will undergo the required regulatory approvals for novel food ingredient globally. “The world has hope. Food of the future is not a utopia – it is happening now,” he said.

An extraordinary protein for ordinary life

Solein is a complete protein with all the essential amino acids that is light in both taste and appearance. It dissolves into daily meals, while simultaneously maintaining its rich nutritional value and offering a unified solution that caters to virtually every imaginable meal of today.

This new, genuinely sustainable and natural protein also provides exciting opportunities for entirely new foods of tomorrow.

Solar Foods argues that producing Solein can take place in the toughest of environmental conditions – the desert, the Arctic, or possibly even in space. Because its production process does not involve irrigation, pesticides, fertilisers applied on open land or animals, Solein stands as the world’s most sustainable protein.

Date published: 1 December 2020

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