ESPOO, FINLAND — eniferBio, a Finnish biotech startup closed its series A funding round on April 19, raising €11 million ($12 million USD). The startup plans to use the funding to scale its production of a mycoprotein powder ingredient, as well as seek approval from the European Union and other international markets.

The funding round was led by Aqua-Spark, a Netherlands-based global aquaculture investment fund, Tesi and Valio, and received participation from Voima Ventures and Nordic Footech VC.

“Production of alternative protein sources has been estimated to have the best positive climate impact in relation to the invested capital,” said Jan-Patrick Haikkola, investment manager at Tesi. “The company is on the forefront of local foodtech startups, and it possesses a verified technology, which the team has managed to commercialize. The company is a fine addition to Tesi’s portfolio regarding sustainable food production.”

According to eniferBio, the world’s increasing population demands more protein supply, as well as ways to decrease carbon emissions throughout the food value chain, which traditional animal- and plant-based proteins cannot supply.

With this in mind, eniferBio has developed PEKILO, a fungus that is manufactured into a high-protein dried powder. PEKILO consists of up to 70% protein, 20% to 30% fiber, about 10% fats and minerals, and a high concentration of vitamin B, making it useful in a variety of applications, like pet food and aquafeed.

Alongside its nutritional benefits, PEKILO also offers sustainable benefits. To create the ingredient, eniferBio upcycles byproducts from the agriculture, food and forest industries, using very little water. The ingredient also does not require large land usage and does not cause eutrophication, according to eniferBio.

“New, plant-based sources of protein are gaining interest amongst consumers and demand is growing worldwide,” said Tuomas Salusjärvi, executive vice president of growth businesses and R&D at Valio. “In addition to traditional food production, we also need new ways of producing food that promote the circular economy. eniferBio is a cutting-edge research company that has developed new ways of utilizing the food industry’s side streams in the production of protein. We want to strengthen our cooperation and be involved in developing new ways of producing food to meet the growing global demand for food.”

eniferBio will use the investment to ramp up production of its PEKILO® mycoprotein powder to thousands of tons annually.

“We are very excited to work with eniferBio to scale PEKILO as a positive ingredient in the sustainable aquaculture feed of the future,” said Lissy Smit, chief executive officer of Aqua-Spark. “Greening aquaculture feed by eliminating our reliance on wild ingredients and reducing our footprint is one of our biggest priorities in getting to a more sustainable aquaculture industry. eniferBio’s alternative feed ingredient serves as a replacement for soy in aquafeed. It significantly reduces land and water usage. Furthermore, early trials suggest that it has the potential to improve growth performance and immune response in fish.”

eniferBio has already established several partnerships with global animal feed and pet food companies, including Nutreco’s aquafeed division Skretting and Valio, for which the company will develop products for consumers. In 2022, eniferBio was selected to participate in Purina’s Unleashed Accelerator Program and has since partnered with the pet food giant.

“We are extremely excited to have our new investors Aqua-Spark, Tesi, and Valio join us on our mission to feed the world with sustainable protein,” said Simo Ellilä, co-founder and chief executive officer of eniferBio. “Together they put a huge amount of new sector-specific know-how and networks at our disposal. We’re also glad to see our long-term backers Nordic Foodtech VC and Voima Ventures double down on their best and show their continued support for our vision.

“We have a product that turns today's waste into a high-value ingredient,” Ellilä added. “We can provide the world’s most competitive protein production process and a product that has been tested on an industrial scale for over 15 years. We are now ready for the next phase of scaling our production and product use cases.”

This next phase of scaling will include building industrial production facilities and applying for permission to use mycoprotein in new products and markets.

Read more news from pet food and treat industry suppliers.