Finnish biotech startup Onego Bio has announced the successful closing of the € 10 million sowing round involving venture capitalists Agronomics Limited and Maki VC. The Onego Bio technology, developed and researched at VTT, allows the production of bioalbumin using cellular agricultural technology.
Bioalbumin is an egg white without animals, which is produced by a particularly precise fermentation process, which creates an identical egg white protein without the need for animals.
The company believes that demand for egg white without animals will grow globally because intensive livestock farming poses many environmental hazards such as over-use of land, greenhouse gas emissions, water scarcity and the risk of global pandemics.
“It’s part of a bigger wave of changing people’s views on alternative ways of producing food. It’s time to develop this technology and start producing our products, as consumers are more open to trying non-animal products. ” Said Onego Bio CEO Maya Itkonen.
World egg production has almost doubled in the last 20 years and is projected to reach 138 million tonnes by 2030. The VTT team has developed a safe, sustainable and cost-effective cell farming method to produce the egg, the most common egg. white protein. This is a biotechnological process based on the use of microflora Trichoderma reeseifor protein production with water, sugar and some minerals, can provide a significant improvement in the environment for egg white production, the company said. The team believes that the chosen technology is the best because of its efficiency and performance.
In cellular agriculture, instead of traditional animal husbandry, microorganisms and bioreactors are used. The method can be compared with the production of beer, in which the microorganism feeds on sugar to produce alcohol.
“VTT’s labs and technical teams have cutting-edge know-how to develop truly new innovations. We will continue to work with them on scientific aspects, and together with our investors we will focus on the commercialization of technology. “Itkanen continues.
Onego Bio will focus on building its experimental production plant in Finland in the coming years and obtaining the necessary commercial permits for its first animal-free bioalbumin powder product.
Onego Bio plans to release the product as a food ingredient for the bakery and confectionery industry, as well as protein supplements for fitness products, and later enters the consumer market with its own branded products for baking and cooking.
“We have a big mission: we want to review eggs and give people access to a delicious healthy alternative without animals. Egg white is a smart starting point for next-level proteins. Due to its unique functional properties such as gelling, foaming, binding and emulsification, egg white is extremely difficult to replace with alternative ingredients. In many cases, the egg is the last frontier before it will be possible to produce finished products without animals.“- said Itkanen.
British billionaire investor Jim Melan, executive director of agronomy, said the Onego team’s capabilities have the potential to produce bioalbum on an industrial scale and at a price competitive with conventional egg production.
“Egg white production has a huge common target market, and there is a need to use precision fermentation tools to meet demand in a sustainable way. We look forward to what they can achieve. ” he said.
Melan added that he expects cellular agriculture-based food production to lead to devastating changes in the entire food system. He argued that this technology will not only have a positive impact on environmental issues, but also reduce the impact of antibiotics, and will also promote global health by preventing the transmission of infectious diseases such as bird flu to humans.
“VTT has world-class know-how in cellular agriculture and microbial protein production,”added Tua Huoma, executive vice president of VTT. “Finland has excellent companies working in other areas of cellular agriculture, and now is the time to set a high bar and take a position also for proteins that are traditionally derived from animals. I hope this action will be remembered as one of the great milestones on the way to a more sustainable and healthy food system. ” Huoma concludes.
The project is part of the VTT LaunchPad, a science-based spin-off incubator where VTT researchers and technology team up with the best business minds and investors to update the industry. VTT LaunchPad supports incubator teams to convert VTT-owned IPRs into fundable allocation companies.