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Finnish food-tech company Solar Foods has opened Factory 01, a new facility in Vantaa, Finland, to support the commercial-scale manufacturing of its Solein protein.


After closing an €8 million funding round in November last year to support the construction of Factory 01, Solar Foods has now announced that the site is open and operational.


Solar Foods’ novel microbial protein, Solein, is described as the ‘world’s most sustainable protein,’ as it is made from air. Solein is a microbial protein-rich powder that contains all essential amino acids and can be used to replace existing proteins in a variety of foods, such as in alt-dairy and meat, snacks, beverages, pasta, breads and spreads.


The nutritious yellow powder, highly functional and compatible with a wide range of traditional ingredients, has long been contained to small quantities: only the Solar Foods pilot laboratory in Espoo, Finland, has produced it.


Solein is produced using a bioprocess where microbes are fed with carbon dioxide, hydrogen, oxygen and small amounts of nutrients. Solar Foods received regulatory approval to sell Solein in Singapore in September 2022.


Solar Foods’ CEO and co-founder, Pasi Vainikka, said: “We will be able to deliver quantities that allow food producers for the first time to create large batches of Solein-powered products. While we have been able to offer consumers a small taste, finding a Solein-based food in your local supermarket has not been possible. Soon it will be."


Factory 01’s bioreactor grows the same amount of Solein protein per day as a 300-cow dairy farm would produce milk protein – and does so while being entirely decoupled from the demands and environmental stresses of traditional agriculture.


“Just like with quantum computers, it’s no longer a question of will cellular agriculture become a thing: it’s evident that it will. The question is more about who leads the charge,” Vainikka added. “We are exploring the possibilities of this scientific platform on a new scale. Factory 01 demonstrates it is possible to grow protein from start to finish under one roof, year-round even in the harsh Northern conditions of Finland – and to do it all sustainably and in a commercially viable manner.”


Factory 01 will also serve as Solar Foods’ hub for R&D and future product development and will pave the way for Solein’s next milestone, Factory 02.


Vainikka commented: “Factory 01 is already a bona fide factory, the kind you could see in an industrial park. But to realise Solein’s full potential, we think bigger. That’s why Factory 02 will eventually scale up the bioprocess as well as the production process: it would not be located in an industrial park, it would more likely fill an industrial park."


Solar Foods is seeking novel food regulatory approvals for Solein in several key markets, including the EU, UK and US. The company’s aim is to enter the US market later this year.


#SolarFoods #Finland

Solar Foods opens commercial-scale factory for its Solein protein

Phoebe Fraser

19 April 2024

Solar Foods opens commercial-scale factory for its Solein protein

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