Finnish startup Solar Foods has achieved a significant milestone by concluding an oversubscribed €8 million ($8.8 million) Series B funding round. This funding will propel the expansion of Solar Foods' innovative Solein protein production, derived from air, and support the construction of "Factory 01," scheduled to commence operations in the first half of 2024.
Series B Round Success Signals Solar Foods' Ascendance
Solar Foods' groundbreaking approach to producing protein from thin air garnered immense interest, resulting in a fully subscribed Series B funding round, completed nearly two weeks ahead of schedule. The €8 million ($8.8 million) investment was led by Finland's Springvest Oyj, with participation from existing investors, including Happiness Capital, Lifeline Ventures, VTT Ventures, and Fazer, through a private placement.
This latest funding marks a total equity raise of over €43 million ($47.1 million), complemented by an additional €30 million ($32 million) in debt financing. The freshly acquired funds will be directed towards the construction and scaling of Solein air protein production at Factory 01, set to commence operations next year. Moreover, the investment will facilitate the exploration of new production organisms and the commercialization of Solein in various food products.
Pasi Vainikka, Solar Foods co-founder and CEO, expressed his enthusiasm, stating, "The oversubscription, the still-growing waiting list, and the funding round reaching its maximum target sooner than expected are all outstanding news for us. It is incredibly uplifting to see that so many want to be part of our journey. The success of this round leads us to think about how a new similar opportunity should be arranged, including an opportunity for international participation."
Revolutionizing Protein Production
Founded in 2017 as a spinout of the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and LUT University, Solar Foods has pioneered the creation of what it calls the "world's most sustainable protein." The company employs microbial fermentation to convert carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and oxygen (replacing sugar as an energy source) into its protein ingredient. This process eliminates the need for open land, fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation.
Notably, Solar Foods' fermentation process is versatile, making protein production independent of water, weather, climate conditions, or traditional agriculture. It can even be produced in challenging environments such as deserts, the Arctic, and even outer space. The company has partnered with the European Space Agency to develop a system for producing food on Mars. The result of this process is an orange-colored dry powder.
Significant Technical and Regulatory Progress
Agronomics, a cellular agriculture investor, highlights Solar Foods' remarkable progress since its initial investment. The startup has increased the productivity of its production organism by over 10 times. In December 2022, Solar Foods secured €34 million ($37.3 million) in grant funding to support the construction of Factory 01, hailed as "the world's first commercial facility to produce food using carbon dioxide and electricity as raw materials."
Global Expansion and Approval
Solar Foods has received regulatory approval for Solein in Singapore, marking a significant milestone that allows the company to sell its carbon-captured protein in the island nation. This approval opened doors to culinary innovations, including a vegan chocolate gelato made from the flavorless protein, featured at Singaporean eatery Fico. Solein's versatility extends beyond desserts; it has been demonstrated in over 20 different foods, including burgers, eggs, and meatballs.
In addition to its grant for Factory 01, Solar Foods has earmarked €76 million ($83.2 million) for Factory 02, should it choose to build on European soil. The company also has a strategic partnership with Japanese food company Ajinomoto, focusing on product development with Solein and marketability studies set to begin in the near future.
While Solar Foods' Solein is not the only air protein on the market, the company's pioneering approach has positioned it at the forefront of a transformative industry. With a strong financial backing and a commitment to sustainable food solutions, Solar Foods is poised to revolutionize the way we think about protein production, ultimately contributing to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly food system.