Finnish Climate Fund: €7 million capital loan to Enifer for the construction of a mycoprotein factory

The Climate Fund has decided on a capital loan of €7 million to eniferBio Oy for the construction of their commercial-scale factory in Kirkkonummi to produce Pekilo fungi-based protein. New types of proteins provide a way to meet the growing demand for protein in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. The Enifer factory is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2025 and production to start in 2026.

Food production accounts for approximately a third of global emissions. The production of animal and plant proteins requires significant area as well as plenty of water – agriculture and food production are the biggest individual factors in the decline of biodiversity globally. Protein consumption is estimated to double by 2050, increasing the need to find environmentally sustainable production methods.

Enifer plans to produce Pekilo protein as raw material for pet food, aquafeed and, later, human consumption. The facility, which is estimated to cost €36.5 million, will produce 3 kilotons of protein annually. In addition to its positive climate impacts, the company’s solution will support circular economy and the nutrient cycle by using sugar-rich side streams from the food and forest industries.

Fungi have an incredible ability to act as nature’s own recycling system. At Enifer, we take advantage of this natural property and we strongly believe that fungi-based protein has the potential to become a significant factor in a future sustainable food chain alongside plant proteins. Mycoprotein is also a sustainable alternative to plant proteins in many ways. The Pekilo process is a unique part of Finnish industrial history, and it is great to be able to advance the work of Finnish protein pioneers. The Pekilo process will soon come alive again – and better than ever – in Kirkkonummi, thanks to our new investors!” says Simo Ellilä, Enifer’s CEO and cofounder.

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.

Enifer’s solution

Established in 2020, eniferBio Oy is a Finnish biotechnology startup, a spinoff of VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, that produces fungi-based protein as raw material for pet food and aquafeed, and later also for human consumption.

Enifer is constructing a commercial-scale mycoprotein factory in Kantvik, Kirkkonummi. The company produces a single-cell protein using the pekilo process, which was originally developed in the 1960s and commercialised in 1975 for the utilisation of forest industry side streams. Various industrial liquid and carbohydrate-containing side streams (sugar and starch-based and lignocellulosic feedstocks) are processed into protein using the Paecilomyces variotii strain in the fermentation process. The process also requires water, energy and nutrients.

Enifer’s production process is efficient as it uses little water and land, and it does not eutrophicate water bodies. The solution promotes circular economy and the nutrient cycle by using food and forest industry side streams in the protein production. Recycling nutrients for protein production also enables the upcycling of biomasses.

The final applications of the mycoprotein impact the emissions reduction potential. The company’s calculation of the emissions reduction potential is based on mycoprotein replacing several different proteins in human food, pet food and aquafood. The total cumulative 10-year emissions reduction potential of the three kilotonne factory is estimated at 280 kt CO2-eq. and if the company’s business plans are fully realised, overall cumulative potential will be approximately 1.6 Mt CO2-eq. The emissions reductions will mainly realise in the effort-sharing sector.

The factory’s €36.5 million investment consists of €15 million equity financing from Taaleri Bioindustry Fund I and the company’s current investors Nordic Foodtech VC, Voima Ventures, Valio and Laine Holding. In addition to the Climate Fund’s capital loan of up to €7 million, a circular economy grant of €12.2 million and Finnvera’s climate and environmental loan of €2 million are included in the package. The Climate Fund’s capital loan is priced at market terms and includes a conversion right. With its funding, the Climate Fund accelerates the implementation of the project with significant climate and environmental impacts.

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