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Animal-free egg protein startup Onego Bio is one step closer to breaking into the traditional egg market | TechCrunch


2023, Egg prices rise Giving alternative protein companies a chance to show they can compete with traditional egg manufacturers.

A year later, prices have calmed down, but a flurry of activity to create more sustainable egg products is still booming. One place that’s seeing a flurry of activity is Onego Bio, a Finland-based food biotech company that uses the fungus Trichoderma reesei and precision fermentation to create an animal-free protein called “bioprotein.” Protein Substitutes.

Maija Itkonen, co-founder and CEO of Onego Bio (pronounced on-eh-go), spun out the company in 2022 with Christopher Landowski, a precision fermentation expert at VTT (Technology Research Center of Finland).

Onego Bio co-founders Maija Itkonen and Christopher Landowski. Image Source: Onego Bio

Itkonen told TechCrunch that the company’s patented fungal fermentation technology process allows it to produce 120 grams of protein per liter in a 250,000-liter fermentation vessel. At this capacity, Onego Bio is close to reaching a price point that is competitive with traditional egg protein manufacturing methods, she added.

Onego Bio claims that Bioalbumen is “bioidentical” to ovalbumin, the main protein in egg white. It also contains all essential amino acids and is high in protein: 90 grams per 100 grams of egg white. Additionally, the company can produce eggs with a 90% smaller environmental footprint.

The company designed Bioalbumen to have a clean, neutral flavor and can be used to replace eggs in a variety of foods, baked goods, snacks and sauces. The company plans to sell Bioalbumen to companies that will subsequently produce the food.

“What we do is different from systems that other companies are developing,” Ikonen said. “The microorganisms grow a little slower, but are much more productive. Therefore, it produces greater yields, and the product is simple. Because it doesn’t require specialized equipment. It all comes back to cost because in order to really compete with animal products, it needs to be the same price point.”

The company will launch in North America first. Itkonen expects Onego Bio to receive Bioalbumen’s self-confirmed GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status this year and a no-objection letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2025. This was followed by expansion into Europe, South America and Asia.

To this end, Onego Bio recently secured $40 million in Series A funding to bring Bioalbumen to market and increase manufacturing capabilities. Funding will be used to develop the U.S. commercial team and work with co-manufacturers while completing its own factory. The company is about to build a full-scale Onego production unit with a fermentation capacity of 2 million liters, which will effectively replace an egg farm with 6 million laying hens, the company said in Itkonen.

Japanese Nordic venture capital firm NordicNinja led the round, with participation from equity investors Tesi and EIT Food, existing investors Agronomics, Maki.vc, Holdix and Turret, and a group of strategic partners.

The round also includes $10 million in non-dilutive funding from BusinessFinland, a public organization under the Finnish government that supports innovation, accelerates systemic change and helps solve major global challenges. Itkonen touted Onego Bio’s Series A round as “one of the largest.” Nordic region’s Series A round,” bringing the company’s total funding to $56 million.

Tomosaku Sohara, managing partner of Nordic Ninja, said in a statement: “Onego Bio is taking all the right steps to achieve commercialization in record time… and has a clear path to industrialization, launch and profitability. Over the past year, Onego has partnered with major global food companies to disrupt the $330 billion egg market, create system-level change and accelerate the green transition.”



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