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Finnish biotech startup Onego Bio closed the seed round with €10M

Finland-based biotech company Onego Bio announces that it has raised 10 million euros during its last seed round. The company is creating an alternative to egg white in terms of meeting the needs of protein consumption rather than getting it directly from animals. To do this, it benefits from Trichoderma technology to produce bioalbumen with cellular agriculture tools which make it possible to have an animal-free alternative for egg consumption.

The funding will allow the company to focus on its pilot production in Finland as well as get commercial approval for its animal-free bioalbumen powder which will make its debut in the U.S.. The product will be on the market as a food ingredient and protein supplement. Soon, Onego Bio Ltd is planning to market its own branded products for baking and cooking. As a part of VTT LaunchPad, the project will contribute to global health considering its drive with environmental concerns.

Finnish startup Onego Bio Ltd raises EUR 10M in seed funding to commercialize a breakthrough technology to produce egg white without chickens

The cellular agriculture spin-off from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland uses a commercially-proven Trichoderma technology to solve environmental problems associated with eggs, one of the world’s most used animal proteins.

Onego Bio

HELSINKI, Finland (22 February, 2022) The Finnish biotech startup Onego Bio Ltd has announced the successful closure of EUR 10 million seed round with participation from venture capital investors Agronomics Limited and Maki VC. Onego Bio’s technology, developed and researched at VTT, enables production of bioalbumen with cellular agriculture means. 

Bioalbumen is an animal-free egg protein, produced with a specific precision fermentation process that creates identical egg white protein without the need for animals.

The company believes that the demand for animal-free egg white protein will be growing globally, because intensive animal farming causes many environmental hazards, such as excessive use of land, greenhouse gas emissions, water scarcity, and the risk of global pandemics. 

“We want to thank VTT and our investors for supporting a technology that is part of a bigger wave of changing people’s perspective on alternative ways of producing food. The time is right to spin out this technology and start manufacturing our product, as consumers are more open to try products that are not animal-derived,” says Maija Itkonen, CEO of Onego Bio Ltd. 

Global egg production has almost doubled its volumes during the past 20 years and is forecasted to reach 138 million tonnes by 2030. At VTT, the team has developed a safe, sustainable and cost-effective cellular agriculture method for producing ovalbumin, the most abundant egg white protein. This biotech process, based on harnessing the microflora Trichoderma reesei for protein production, with the help of water, sugar and certain minerals, can provide significant environmental improvements to the egg white production. The team believes the chosen technology is superior because of its efficiency and productivity.

Cellular agriculture uses microorganisms and bioreactors instead of traditional animal farming. The method can be compared to beer production, in which microorganism is fed sugar to produce alcohol. 

“VTT’s laboratories and technical teams have cutting-edge know-how to develop truly new innovations. We will continue working together with them on the scientific aspects, and together with our investors we simultaneously focus on commercializing the technology,” Itkonen continues. 

Onego Bio Ltd will focus on building its pilot production in Finland during the coming years and acquiring the necessary commercial approvals for its first product, animal-free bioalbumen powder. The product will be first marketed in the United States, where the regulatory landscape allows for faster market entry. 

Onego Bio Ltd is planning to market the product as a food ingredient for the bakery and confectionary industry, as well as a protein supplement for fitness products, and later enter the consumer market with its own branded products for baking and cooking. 

Onego Bio“We have a big mission: We want to rethink eggs and give people access to a delicious healthy animal-free alternative. Egg white is a smart starting point for the next level proteins. Because of its unique functional properties like gelling, foaming, binding and emulsifying, the egg white is extremely difficult to replace with alternative ingredients. In many applications, egg is the last frontier before entirely animal-free end products can be manufactured”, says Itkonen. 

onego bio, agronomics“We are highly impressed with the Onego team’s capabilities, background, and their vision for the company. With their technology, they have the potential to produce bioalbumen at an industrial scale and at a price point that is competitive with conventional egg production which has major implications for the environment and animal welfare. Egg white production has a huge total addressable market and there is a necessity to utilize precision fermentation tools to meet the demand in a sustainable manner. We look forward to seeing what they can accomplish”, says Jim Mellon, Executive Director of Agronomics.

It is forecasted that food production based on cellular agriculture will lead to a disruptive change in the entire food system. The technology would not just have a positive impact on environmental issues but also reduce exposure to antibiotics, and contribute to global health by preventing infectious diseases, such as bird flu, from transferring to humans.

onego bio“VTT has world-class knowhow in the field of cellular agriculture and microbial based protein production,” says Tua Huomo, Executive Vice President, VTT.  “In Finland there are great companies working on other areas of cellular agriculture, and now it’s time to set the bar high and have a position also for proteins that are traditionally sourced from animals. This action will be hopefully remembered as one of the great milestones towards the more sustainable and healthy food system,” Huomo concludes.

The project has been part of VTT LaunchPad, a science-based spin-off incubator, where VTT researchers and technology are brought together with the best business minds and investors out there to renew industries. VTT LaunchPad supports incubator teams to develop VTT owned IPR into fundable spin-off companies.

Click here for more funding news!

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Nurcin Metingil
Nurcin Metingil
A permanent student, a passionate first reader and nowadays doing master’s degree in Publishing Management. Beside these, I am up for games! I have been playing games since I was 6. Now, I am whispering "Business. Business. Numbers. Is this working?"

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