The researcher of Enifer – World’s First Sidestream Mycoprotein Plant, shown in the picture

Enifer to Launch World’s First Sidestream Mycoprotein Plant

Helsinki Ring of Industry’s innovative food and beverage portfolio is set to expand with the Finnish biotech scaleup Enifer establishing a new factory in Kirkkonummi. The facility, slated for completion by the end of 2025 and projected to cost €33M, will convert food industry side streams into Enifer’s sustainable PEKILO® fungi-based protein ingredients. This will be the world’s first commercial plant to produce such mycoprotein from side stream raw materials.

Founded in 2020 as a spin-off from the Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. (VTT), Enifer is at the forefront of sustainable food innovation. The company was established by five researchers dedicated to further developing and commercializing their proprietary PEKILO® technology. Originally developed in the 1970s by the Finnish forest industry, PEKILO® technology transforms dilute side streams from various industries into high protein mycoprotein ingredients through a biotechnological process.

Enifer’s PEKILO® mycoprotein is an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional protein sources. The fermentation process, reminiscent of brewing beer or making soy sauce, involves cultivating a specific fungus that converts industrial side streams into a neutral-tasting, high-quality protein powder. This innovative approach not only minimizes waste but also significantly reduces the carbon footprint and resource consumption associated with protein production.

Sidestream Mycoprotein powder

At The heart of Finnish bioindustries

The new factory will employ around 15 people during regular operations and more than twice that number during construction and commissioning. With a production capacity of up to 3,000 tons of PEKILO® mycoprotein per year, the facility aims to meet the annual protein needs of approximately 40,000 people.

Enifer’s innovative mycoprotein factory, nestled within the Helsinki Ring of Industry in the Kantvik Business Area of Kirkkonummi, represents a significant advancement in sustainable food production. The company plans to file for Novel Foods approval from European Commission in 2024, with expectations to receive approval by 2026.

“At Enifer, we’re extremely excited to announce the kick-off of our first factory investment project. For over half a century, Kantvik has been at the heart of Finnish bioindustries, and I could not think of a better location to bring PEKILO® fermentation back to life. I would like to thank our new investors, in particular Taaleri Bioindustry and the Finnish Climate Fund, for joining us in our mission. Mycoprotein is the missing ingredient for a more sustainable food chain – the facility in Kantvik serves as a key steppingstone on our path to making mycoprotein a cornerstone of protein supply, with several future factories already being planned,” stated Simo Ellilä, CEO and co-founder of Enifer, in a press release dated May 2024.

Simo Ellilä, CEO and co-founder of Enifer – World’s First Sidestream Mycoprotein Plant
Simo Ellilä, CEO and co-founder of Enifer

Also, the municipality is excited about the investment of a new top technology company in Kantvik. “Kirkkonummi and the whole of Finland need such innovations and new technologies that develop our vitality and at the same time support the achievement of our climate goals. Congratulations to Enifer on starting the project and welcome to the municipality,” sums up Anna-Kaisa Kauppinen, Director of Community Engineering, the municipality of Kirkkonummi.

Support by strong global network

Enifer already has ongoing partnerships with big global companies in the feed and food industries, such as Norwegian Nutreco Skretting, a global leader in providing innovative and sustainable nutritional solutions and services for the aquaculture industry; Purina, a renowned pet food brand owned by Nestle; and Valio, a prominent consumer food products and dairy company in Finland.

The funding of the Enifer comprises by €15M Series B equity funding round led by the Finnish private equity fund Taaleri Bioindustry Fund I, with follow-on investments from existing shareholders Nordic Foodtech VC, Voima Ventures, and Valio. This funding is complemented by the Finnish Climate Fund, which has extended a €7M junior loan to support the project and a €2M Climate and Environmental Loan provided by Finnvera. This funding comes on top of the previously reported €12M recycling and reuse investment grant from Business Finland, making the new factory fully funded.

“We are very happy to start cooperation with Enifer. We believe that there is an increased need for alternative proteins as the global population grows. Demand is also supported globally by environmental and ethical considerations. Taaleri Bioindustry Fund I’s investment enables commercial scale production. We are confident in Enifer’s opportunities to expand,” comments Tero Saarno, Managing Director, Taaleri Bioindustry, in a press release.

“The world’s population and the need for protein are growing. Food production is – even at the level of technologies that can already be scaled – an unsolved key part of the climate challenge. In the future, sustainable food production will be based on several different solutions and the demand for new types of proteins is predicted to grow significantly over the next decade. Enifer’s already tested technology is interesting as the nutrients of various side streams can be upcycled and their processing value increased instead of energy use,” the Finnish Climate Fund’s acting CEO Toni Mikkonen describes the funding decision in a press release.

Team of Enifer – World’s First Sidestream Mycoprotein Plant

Enifer

Enifer, a spin-off company from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, was founded by five scientists in 2020 to develop and commercialize the proprietary PEKILO® technology further. A process originally developed and used by the Finnish forest industry at a commercial scale, the PEKILO® technology enables the biotechnological conversion of dilute side streams into a high-protein ingredient, PEKILO® mycoprotein.

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