FINLAND- Finnish biotech startup Enifer has recently secured a €12 (US$13.16) million grant to construct a pioneering mycoprotein ingredient factory, marking a significant leap forward in sustainable protein production. 

The grant, conditionally approved by Business Finland, will facilitate the development of Enifer’s proprietary PEKILO® mycoprotein, with an anticipated annual production capacity of around 3 million kilograms.

The funding, sourced from the European Union NextGenerationEU recovery instrument, aligns with Enifer’s commitment to the circular economy action plan and the Sustainable Growth Programme for Finland. 

This venture aims to promote the reuse and recycling of industrial by-products and waste streams through the establishment of the first-of-its-kind industrial facility.

The commercial-scale factory will specialize in producing Enifer’s unique PEKILO® mycoprotein ingredients, utilizing a fungal fermentation process. Originating in the 1970s, the PEKILO fermentation process was initially developed by Finnish forest industry engineers. 

From 1975 to 1991, it served as the world’s first commercial mycoprotein production process, converting forest industry by-products into sustainable feed protein for the domestic market.

Enifer has since advanced the original process, creating a food-grade ingredient based on the PEKILO® technology. The resulting product is a protein- and fiber-rich powder with a neutral taste and color, positioned to be used similarly to plant-based proteins in today’s food industry. 

Regulatory approval for the food-grade ingredient is expected to be filed during the first half of 2024.

The new facility, projected to cost €30 (US$32.90) million, will have an annual production capacity of 3 million kilograms of sustainable, locally sourced protein.

This output is roughly equivalent to the protein content of meat from 30,000 cows but boasts at least 20 times lower carbon emissions and considerably lower water and land use. 

The construction of the facility, undertaken in collaboration with the design and engineering company AFRY, is expected to be completed by the end of 2025, with production ramp-up scheduled for 2026. 

The specific location of the facility in the Uusimaa region is expected to be announced in the first quarter of 2024.

Simo Ellilä, CEO, and co-founder of Enifer expresses excitement about completing the mission initiated by the original developers of PEKILO® more than 50 years ago.

He states, “This plant will be a critical stepping stone to scaling the production of PEKILO® as a truly universal protein source, which we aim to commercialize globally across different applications.

Enifer, having previously raised €11 (US$12.06) million in series A funding in spring 2023, is well-positioned for success. 

The company has established partnerships with major global players in the feed and food industries, including Skretting, the global aquafeed division of Nutreco, Purina for pet food, and Valio for consumer food products. 

This latest grant propels Enifer toward the forefront of sustainable protein innovation, contributing to the global effort for more environmentally friendly and efficient protein sources.

For all the latest grains industry news from Africa, the Middle East, and the World, subscribe to our weekly NEWSLETTERS, follow us on LinkedIn, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.