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Onego Bio wins Fast Company’s 2023 World Changing Ideas Award

May 4, 2023

Onego Bio's Bioalbumen, an animal-free egg white protein produced with precision fermentation, has been selected as a winner of Fast Company’s 2023 World Changing Ideas Awards. Fast Company has named Bioalbumen as both the winner of the Food category and a Finalist in the Agriculture category.

“We’re honored to have Bioalbumen recognized by Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards as the winner in the Food category and finalist in the Agriculture category,” said Maija Itkonen, Co-founder & CEO, Onego Bio. “As widely used as they are, egg whites are often the last frontier before entirely animal-free products can be manufactured. Ovalbumin is ‘one of nature’s wonders’. We anticipate that by bringing such an important ingredient to the market, many food system challenges can be solved, even outside of the egg market.”

As readers of Protein Production Technology International learned from the April/May 2023 edition's interview with Chris Landowski, Onego Bio's scalable and efficient biotech process is based on harnessing the microorganism Trichoderma reesei for egg protein production, with the help of water, sugar, and certain minerals. The method can be compared to beer production, in which the microorganism is fed sugar to produce alcohol. The outcome in this process is Bioalbumen powder, which is identical to egg white protein powder - without the need for chickens.

Onego Bio’s production technology is unique in that it can be scaled up into large industrial bioreactors and produces levels of the desired protein efficiently with little to no waste, since the side stream biomass can be utilized as well in products like packaging materials or animal-free mycelium leather.

Bioalbumen provides all the nutritional and functional upsides of egg white, without the environmental, ethical, safety and supply chain-related concerns. It can maintain all the performance of egg white, including foaming, gelling, binding and leavening properties which are challenging to replace with other ingredients.

“Bioalbumen is not a substitute. It is the real thing. It is part of an emerging category of animal-free ingredients produced through fermentation,” continued Itkonen. “Precision fermentation is the newest chapter in the history of making food without animals. It allows us to provide people with food that is sustainable, tasty, and healthy – without cutting any corners or making any compromises.”

Over the past year, egg prices have skyrocketed 70% (the great 'eggflation') due to higher-priced chicken feed and an outbreak of bird flu, and prices are predicted to remain high. Egg production itself is not sustainable, ethical or efficient. Given the world's love of eggs, we need a more sustainable solution. Based on the anticipatory life cycle assessment, production of Bioalbumen has the potential to reduce environmental impacts (such as land use, greenhouse gas emissions or water scarcity) by up to 90% compared to traditional egg white powder production with 10 times better yields and price parity.

“It’s thrilling to see the creativity and innovation that are so abundant among this year’s honorees,” noted Fast Company Editor-in-Chief, Brendan Vaughan. “While it’s easy to feel discouraged by the state of the world, the entrepreneurs, companies, and non-profits featured in this package show the limitless potential to address society’s most urgent problems. Our journalists have highlighted some of the most exciting and impactful work being done today – from housing to equity to sustainability – and we look forward to seeing not only how these projects evolve but how they inspire others to develop solutions of their own.”

Fast Company’s annual World Changing Ideas Awards honor the businesses and organizations that are developing creative solutions to the most pressing issues of our time.

This year’s World Changing Ideas Awards showcase 45 winners, 216 finalists, and more than 300 honorable mentions – with health, climate, energy, and AI among the most popular categories. A panel of Fast Company editors and reporters selected winners and finalists from a pool of more than 2,200 entries across urban design, education, nature, politics, technology, corporate social responsibility, and more - representing the kind of innovation and ingenuity necessary to make the world more accessible, equitable, and sustainable for everyone.

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