The Finnish start-up produces a single-cell protein out of thin air that can be used in food and drink formulations
Thee members of Solar Foods team
Dr Paisi Vainikka, co-founder and chief executive (left) and Dr Juha-Pekka Pitkänen, co-founder and chief technology officer (right). Photo as seen on Solar Foods’ Facebook page

Finnish Solar Foods is a foodtech start-up producing a unique single-cell protein out of thin air. The company has raised €15 million in an extension to its Series A round, bringing the total capital raised to €18.5 million, including the €3.5 million convertibles raised in late 2019.

Headquartered in Helsinki, Solar Foods is the first company to produce food by using air-captured carbon dioxide (CO2) in a complete and continuous mode, including the preparation of the final food products.

Through this process, which uses air and electricity as its primary raw materials, the company produces Solein, an entirely new kind of nutrient-rich protein.

Solar Foods is bullish on the potential food revolution it has created: the production of Solein is non-dependent on agriculture, climate, or the weather.

The company argued that the latest financing round is the largest capital raise by any foodtech in Finland to date. The round was led by Fazer Group with Bridford Investments Limited, Agronomics Limited, Lifeline Ventures and CPT Capital.

“We have been with Solar Foods from the very beginning and have been extremely impressed with how their team has consistently delivered on all expectations,” said Juha Lindfors, partner at Lifeline Ventures and chairman of Solar Foods.

Lindfors highlighted that this financing round has brought together an excellent group of highly experienced investors who understand the industry thoroughly.

“We are thrilled with our new partners and their vast experience now at Solar Foods’ disposal,” said Dr Pasi Vainikka, Solar Foods co-founder and chief executive. “This development now enables us to successfully proceed with our planned production facility.”

Solar Foods new factory

Solar Foods is now ready to start building a new production plant. The facility is planned to be operational in late 2022 and will enable the commercialisation of new food products based on the novel ingredient.

Thus far, Solar Foods has already developed 20 different kinds of food products that utilise Solein.

The factory will be located in Finland and is aimed to be the world’s first commercial factory producing food out of air-captured CO2.

Vainikka explained: “At the start-up phase, our production is estimated to produce five million meals a year. We want to disconnect protein production from the ever-increasing use of environmental resources. Turning this possibility into a reality is an exciting prospect.”

Video by Solar Foods

Solar Foods has already carried out basic engineering for its production facility and is now entering the permitting process.

Powered by possibilism

Solar Foods’ new factory is planned to demonstrate the future of food production in an urban environment. It is designed to include the Solein Experience Hub and a future-food bar to provide visitors with an entirely new level of transparency in food production, which is why the production facility is also called the demonstrator.

“New technologies can open windows to the future,” said Vainikka. “Through them, we can see possibilities that were an impossibility only a handful of years ago.”

Vainikka continued: “It is not a case of opportunism, nor a question of optimism or pessimism. Producing Solein every day is already a tangible reality. Our vision is to change the way food is produced, and the demonstrator’s product is aimed to be permitted as a global novel food. The world has hope. Food of the future is not a utopia – it is happening now.”

Solein: A natural protein of genuine sustainability

Solein is a complete protein with all the essential amino acids that is light in both taste and appearance. This new, genuinely sustainable and natural protein also provides exciting opportunities for entirely new foods of tomorrow.

Solar Foods said that producing Solein can take place in the toughest of environmental conditions, such as 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: 2 September 2020

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