Finnish startup Solar Foods has been granted €4.3 million (~$5.2 million USD) in financing from government organization Business Finland. The new funding follows a Series A fundraise from September and brings Solar Foods’ total amount raised since the company began in 2017 to €24.8 million (~$30 million USD).
These new funds will enable Solar Foods to open a new manufacturing facility and, more importantly, start to commercialize food products made from its Solein ingredient, an edible protein made from air and electricity.
To make Solein, also referred to as “air protein,” Solar Foods captures carbon dioxide from the air and combines it with bacteria to form single-celled proteins. The process has some noted advantages over other forms of alternative protein in that it doesn’t rely on irrigation, land, or good weather to function. The company has already demonstrated it can make multiple food products, including alt-meat items, with Solein. Another additional advantage of air protein is that in the inputs — carbon dioxide — are not finite.
Solar Foods’ major competitor in the air protein arena is a U.S.-based company simply called Air Protein, which is developing its own consumer-facing products for retail and restaurant partnerships. Elsewhere, the air protein market remains a pretty niche one, though commercialization of these companies’ products could change that.
For its part, Solar Foods said it expects its manufacturing facility to be operational by 2022. The company said its next step is to “finalise funding for the demonstration factory investment.” It is due to set the official location for that factory in the coming weeks.