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January 12, 2024

Now in Protein Production, Enifer's Ambitious Quest for Sustainable Protein

Enifer, an innovative biotech startup born out of VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland

The global challenge of doubling the protein supply by 2050 while curbing CO2 emissions from the food value chain demands innovative solutions. Traditional protein sources fall short, prompting Finnish biotech startup Enifer, a spin-off from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, to step into the fray. Bolstered by a €12 million investment grant from the European Union NextGenerationEU recovery instrument, in addition to an €11 million Series A funding round earlier in 2023, Enifer embarks on a groundbreaking mission.

Enifer's vision materializes with the construction of its inaugural PEKILO mycoprotein ingredient factory, a testament to its commitment to sustainability. The facility, aligning with the EU's circular economy action plan and Finland's Sustainable Growth Programme, sets the stage for industrial facilities that repurpose and recycle by-products and waste streams. With a projected capacity of 3 million kilograms per year, the factory is a game-changer, providing locally-sourced protein equivalent to that of meat from 30,000 cows, yet with at least 20 times lower carbon emissions and significantly reduced water and land use.

Founded in 2020 by five visionary scientists, Enifer revitalizes the art of producing PEKILO fungal protein through cutting-edge bioprocess technology. The PEKILO mycoprotein ingredients, crafted through fungal fermentation, are versatile, finding applications in pet food and aquafeed. Originating from a pioneering process developed by Finnish forest industry engineers in the 1970s, Enifer's mycoprotein production is deeply rooted in sustainability, transforming industry by-products into a protein-rich powder with neutral taste and color.

The commercial-scale factory, a collaboration with design and engineering company AFRY, carries a €30 million price tag and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2025, with production scaling up in 2026. The Uusimaa region will host this groundbreaking facility, marking a significant milestone in Enifer's mission to reshape the protein landscape.

Simo Ellilä, CEO and Co-founder of Enifer, expresses gratitude for the financial support from Business Finland and the European Union NextGenerationEU program. With plans to file for regulatory approval in the first half of 2024, Enifer aims to propel PEKILO into the global spotlight, offering a universal protein source that addresses the critical needs of a burgeoning world population. As Enifer takes this monumental leap, it not only transforms the protein industry but shapes a sustainable future for generations to come.

Neil Hodgson Coyle
Neil Hodgson-Coyle
Editorial chief at TechNews180
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