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Finland's Onego Bio raises US$40 million to scale up animal-free egg production

April 5, 2024

Onego Bio has completed their US$40 million Series A funding round to drive commercialization and manufacturing of egg protein via precision fermentation. The round was led by NordicNinja, a Japanese-Nordic VC investing in the most promising companies within sustainability and digital society, and included equity investments from Tesi and EIT Food, existing investors Agronomics, Maki.vc, Holdix and Turret, and certain strategic partners. The Series A round also includes a US$10 million non-dilutive funding from Business Finland, a public organization under the Finnish Government that supports innovation to accelerate systemic change to help solve major global challenges. Onego’s Series A funding is one of the largest A-rounds in the Nordics, bringing the company’s total funding to US$56 million.

“Onego Bio is taking all the right steps to commercialize in record time," said Tomosaku Sohara, Managing Partner, Nordic Ninja. "They are a next-generation precision fermentation company, with a clear path to industrialization, go-to-market, and profitability. With technology that is designed to scale and such a strong team, they really stand out. In less than two years, Onego is already working with major global food companies and is staged to disrupt the US$330 billion egg market and create system level change, accelerating the green transition.”

"Onego is well placed to scale successfully, due to its highly experienced team who have world-leading research expertise, and extensive experience in scaling companies from startups to large corporations," added NordicNinja’s Principal Claes Mikko Nilsen. "We couldn’t be more thrilled to be part of this journey.”

“Eggs are an essential part of food businesses, but with the egg market constantly fluctuating due to avian flu and increased demand for cage-free, manufacturers are challenged to find a viable replacement with a consistent, reliable, and safe supply of high-quality protein at an accessible price. A long-term sustainable solution for chicken eggs is needed,” said Jim Mellon, Executive Chairman & Co-founder of Agronomics. “We have been highly impressed with Onego’s capabilities and vision from the very beginning. By repurposing a well-established technology from the enzyme industry for food protein production, they are well-positioned to scale to the massive volumes needed to future-proof the supply of the world’s most versatile and popular food protein.”

"We're incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by a passionate team and like-minded investors who share our vision for systemic change in the food system," enthused Maija Itkonen, Co-founder & CEO of Onego Bio. "This powerful combination has fueled our rapid growth, allowing us to deliver a revolutionary ingredient that is unmatched in terms of functionality, taste and texture. Egg protein remains one of nature’s most perfect foods; this single ingredient supplies more than 20 different functional benefits from aeration to emulsification and gelation. While it may sound scientific, the value is in our mouths every day with velvety cake structures, silky-smooth mayonnaises, crispy nugget batterings, or those chewy-fluffy nougat fillings, just to mention few.”

Catering to the needs of the food industry, Bioalbumen is bioidentical to the major protein in chicken egg white, ovalbumin. Nutritionally complete, Bioalbumen contains all essential amino acids, has the highest possible protein digestibility score PDCAAS of 1.0, and delivers an impressive >90g protein per 100g. With a clean neutral flavor and superior functional properties, it’s an ideal industrial ingredient for replacing eggs and enhancing the texture, taste, and performance of a wide range of applications across the food industry. Onego currently collaborates with over 25 well-known CPG companies, integrating Bioalbumen into their innovation pipeline for a wide range of products, including baked goods, confectionery, snacks, sauces, pasta, meat alternatives, and more.  

Onego Bio was founded in 2022 as a spinoff from VTT (Technical Research Center of Finland) by alternative protein pioneer Maija Itkonen (CEO) and precision fermentation trailblazer Christopher Landowski (CTO). The company uses a patented world class fungal fermentation technology which is superior in productivity and scalability with demonstrated industrial production potential of 120g/liter in 250,000-liter fermentation vessels allowing to reach competitive price points with the conventional way of making egg protein.

The company leverages its recent funding to fuel its North American go-to-market strategy, including scaling up to industrial-level production and expanding its U.S. commercial team. To accelerate market entry, Onego is partnering with co-manufacturers while finalizing its in-house manufacturing plans. This comprehensive approach involves securing offtake agreements and obtaining non-dilutive funding for the construction of their first own manufacturing unit. A single Onego full-scale manufacturing unit boasts a two-million-liter fermentation capacity, effectively replacing an egg farm with six million laying hens. This translates to a dramatic 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a 95% decrease in land use. To further minimize environmental impact, the company has ongoing projects focused on using alternative feedstocks, ultimately eliminating their reliance on corn sugar and grasslands.

Onego is on-track to receive self-affirmed GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status for Bioalbumen this year, with a no objections letter expected from the FDA in 2025.  As a US-Finnish company, Onego is first launching in North America, where the regulatory landscape allows a faster market entry, followed by expansion in Europe, South America and Asia.

If you have any questions or would like to get in touch with us, please email info@futureofproteinproduction.com

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