Biotech startup Onego Bio has just raised an additional €4.5 million to accelerate the development of its animal-free egg white. Based in Finland, the team is on a mission to address a major global challenge of our time – sustainably feeding a growing population.
As the world’s population grows and the climate crisis continues to make its impact felt, one thing has become abundantly clear – we need new ways to sustainably feed the world’s population. From food production to distribution and preparation, the way we source and enjoy food is changing monumentality and biotech innovation is helping cook up new approaches to food.
Onego Bio, a biotech spin-off from VTT Technical Research Center of Finland, is working to produce animal-free egg white with precision fermentation, offering a sustainable alternative to the world’s most popular protein.
Now, the startup has raised additional funding to accelerate product development.
Onego Bio has just announced an additional €4.5 million of funding granted by Business Finland. It comes on the back of a €10 million raise in February of this year, which was led by Agronomics and Maki VC.
Business Finland’s new investment makes it possible to increase the project’s resourcing and speed up its implementation, which improves its business expectations and positive social and environmental effects.
According to Business Finland, the company’s solution rises to the major global challenges and development trends in food production. It has significant international business potential and promotes sustainable food production, food security and the fight against climate change. The funded project also promotes the commercialization of public research findings into a global competitive advantage and has a significant positive impact on the development of the company’s business.
Maija Itkonen, CEO and co-founder of Onego Bio: “Since our founding in February 2022, our team has been working hard to launch remarkable development projects, recruiting talented new team members, as well as generating business plans and commercial scenarios. With the help of this amazing additional funding, we can focus on even more complex and ambitious R&D areas and keep our risk appetite and performance requirements high”
Egg without the chicken
Founded in 2022 by Maija Itkonen (CEO), Christopher Landowski (CTO) and Jussi Joensuu (COO), the Finnish startup has developed a protein alternative that could have massive benefits for the global food supply system.
Eggs are perhaps the world’s most popular animal proteins and have so far proved very difficult to replace. Global egg production has almost doubled its volume during the past 20 years and is forecasted to reach 138 million tonnes by 2030. At the same time, the demand for animal-free alternatives is booming. Plant-based is the new norm in dietary culture as intensive animal farming is being shown to cause environmental challenges – such as the excessive use of land, greenhouse gas emissions, water scarcity, and the risk of global pandemics.
Onego Bio uses a commercially proven Trichoderma technology to solve the environmental problems associated with eggs. This safe, sustainable and cost-effective precision fermentation method produces ovalbumin, the most abundant egg white protein, and the team believes this chosen technology is superior because of its efficiency and productivity. It also provides significant benefits to the environment, food security, as well as animal welfare.
Cellular agriculture uses microorganisms and bioreactors instead of traditional animal farming and can provide the same beloved food ingredients that are used every day but decoupled from animal agriculture systems. Because of its unique functional properties, egg white is difficult to replace with alternative ingredients and it’s often the last frontier before entirely animal-free products can be manufactured.
Onego Bio aims to produce an alternative that will make it possible to manufacture the same delicious foods entirely animal-free. The foodtech innovators’ product provides the nutritional and functional upsides of egg white, without environmental, ethical and safety-related concerns. The company aims to launch its first product Bioalbumen™ as a food ingredient for the food industry and later enter the consumer market with its own branded products for baking and cooking.