(“Agronomics” or the “Company”)
Agronomics, the leading listed company focused on the field of cellular agriculture, is pleased to announce a €6.9 million investment (“the Subscription”) in Onego Bio Ltd (“Onego Bio”), a company developing sustainable and animal free egg protein, as part of a €10 million Seed fundraising round. Agronomics will hold an equity stake on a fully diluted basis of 19.94%, and will have the right to a board seat. The Onego Bio position will represent an estimated portfolio weighting based on the Company’s last reported Net Asset Value of 4.21%. The investment will be funded using cash from the Company’s own resources.
Onego Bio is a spin-out from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd (“VTT”), one of Europe’s leading research institutions. The company harnesses precision fermentation to develop egg proteins without the need for traditional agriculture, with the aim of providing people with sustainable, delicious and animal free egg protein. It was founded in Helsinki in 2021 by CEO Maija Itkonen, CTO Chris Landowski, and COO Jussi Joensuu, after many years of developing and researching their precision fermentation technology whilst at VTT. Demand for alternative egg white protein continues to grow, due to the environmental and welfare concerns associated with animal husbandry, and continued global pressure on suppliers to go cage-free.
Onego Bio was founded in 2021 and, as such, is yet to generate revenue, incur significant costs or report its Net Assets.
The full announcement is set out below without any material changes:
Finnish startup Onego Bio Ltd raises EUR 10M in seed funding to commercialize a breakthrough technology to produce egg white without chickens
The cellular agriculture spin-off from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland uses a commercially-proven Trichoderma technology to solve environmental problems associated with eggs, one of the world’s most used animal proteins.
HELSINKI, Finland (22 February, 2022) The Finnish biotech startup Onego Bio Ltd has announced the successful closure of EUR 10 million seed round with participation from venture capital investors Agronomics Limited and Maki VC. Onego Bio’s technology, developed and researched at VTT, enables production of bioalbumen with cellular agriculture means.
Bioalbumen is an animal-free egg protein, produced with a specific precision fermentation process that creates identical egg white protein without the need for animals.
The company believes that the demand for animal-free egg white protein will be growing globally, because intensive animal farming causes many environmental hazards, such as excessive use of land, greenhouse gas emissions, water scarcity, and the risk of global pandemics.
“We want to thank VTT and our investors for supporting a technology that is part of a bigger wave of changing people’s perspective on alternative ways of producing food. The time is right to spin out this technology and start manufacturing our product, as consumers are more open to try products that are not animal-derived,” says Maija Itkonen, CEO of Onego Bio Ltd.
Global egg production has almost doubled its volumes during the past 20 years and is forecasted to reach 138 million tonnes by 2030. At VTT, the team has developed a safe, sustainable and cost-effective cellular agriculture method for producing ovalbumin, the most abundant egg white protein. This biotech process, based on harnessing the microflora Trichoderma reesei for protein production, with the help of water, sugar and certain minerals, can provide significant environmental improvements to the egg white production. The team believes the chosen technology is superior because of its efficiency and productivity.
Cellular agriculture uses microorganisms and bioreactors instead of traditional animal farming. The method can be compared to beer production, in which microorganism is fed sugar to produce alcohol.
“VTT’s laboratories and technical teams have cutting-edge know-how to develop truly new innovations. We will continue working together with them on the scientific aspects, and together with our investors we simultaneously focus on commercializing the technology,” Itkonen continues.
Onego Bio Ltd will focus on building its pilot production in Finland during the coming years and acquiring the necessary commercial approvals for its first product, animal-free bioalbumen powder. The product will be first marketed in the United States, where the regulatory landscape allows for faster market entry.
Onego Bio Ltd is planning to market the product as a food ingredient for the bakery and confectionary industry, as well as a protein supplement for fitness products, and later enter the consumer market with its own branded products for baking and cooking.
“We have a big mission: We want to rethink eggs and give people access to a delicious healthy animal-free alternative. Egg white is a smart starting point for the next level proteins. Because of its unique functional properties like gelling, foaming, binding and emulsifying, the egg white is extremely difficult to replace with alternative ingredients. In many applications, egg is the last frontier before entirely animal-free end products can be manufactured“, says Itkonen.
“We are highly impressed with the Onego team’s capabilities, background, and their vision for the company. With their technology, they have the potential to produce bioalbumen at an industrial scale and at a price point that is competitive with conventional egg production which has major implications for the environment and animal welfare. Egg white production has a huge total addressable market and there is a necessity to utilise precision fermentation tools to meet the demand in a sustainable manner. We look forward to seeing what they can accomplish”, says Jim Mellon, Executive Director of Agronomics.
It is forecasted that food production based on cellular agriculture will lead to a disruptive change in the entire food system. The technology would not just have a positive impact on environmental issues but also reduce exposure to antibiotics, and contribute to global health by preventing infectious diseases, such as bird flu, from transferring to humans.
“VTT has world-class knowhow in the field of cellular agriculture and microbial based protein production,” says Tua Huomo, Executive Vice President, VTT. “In Finland there are great companies working on other areas of cellular agriculture, and now it’s time to set the bar high and have a position also for proteins that are traditionally sourced from animals. This action will be hopefully remembered as one of the great milestones towards the more sustainable and healthy food system,” Huomo concludes.
The project has been part of VTT LaunchPad, a science-based spin-off incubator, where VTT researchers and technology are brought together with the best business minds and investors out there to renew industries. VTT LaunchPad supports incubator teams to develop VTT owned IPR into fundable spin-off companies.
About Onego Bio Ltd
Onego Bio Ltd is a Finnish biotech company developing animal-free proteins such as egg white. The company, founded in 2022, is a VTT spin-off that salutes the remarkable work done by VTT for the next level cell ag products and applications. The Onego Bio Ltd shareholders include venture capital investors Agronomics and Maki. The new company founded by a group of experienced entrepreneurs and scientists has acquired a technology license from VTT as an investment by VTT Holding. The seasoned Onego Bio Ltd founders include Maija Itkonen, CEO, who has a notable background as the plant based, alternative protein movement force in Finland, through her previous company Gold&Green Foods Ltd, and Christopher Landowski, CTO, a cellular agriculture innovator who is behind the main IP and initial model for producing the ovalbumin outside of chickens. The team is completed with Jussi Joensuu, COO who is not only a renowned scientist and molecular biologist, but also an experienced entrepreneur and farmer.
About VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd
VTT is a visionary research, development and innovation partner. We drive sustainable growth and tackle the biggest global challenges of our time, and turn them into growth opportunities. We go beyond the obvious to help the society and companies to grow through technological innovations. We have 80 years of experience of top-level research and science-based results. VTT is at the sweet spot where innovation and business come together. The European Association of Research & Technology Organisations EARTO announced VTT’s technology as a winner of the EARTO Innovation Awards 2020 competition, in the Impact Expected category on 28th October in Brussels.
Maki.vc is a seed-stage venture capital firm based in Helsinki, Finland that champions the entrepreneurs who rewrite the future. The fund invests in deep tech and brand-driven companies across consumer and enterprise spaces. Maki.vc team and global network shares in the vision of entrepreneurs as champions and challengers, drawing on the experience of scaling some of the strongest technology companies. www.maki.vc.
Agronomics is a leading listed alternative proteins company with a focus on cellular agriculture and cultivated meat. The Company has established a portfolio of 20 companies at the Pre-Seed to Series C stage in this rapidly advancing sector. It seeks to secure minority stakes in companies owning technologies with defensible intellectual property that offer new ways of producing food and materials with a focus on products historically derived from animals. These technologies are driving a major disruption in agriculture, offering solutions to improve sustainability, as well as addressing human health, animal welfare and environmental damage. This disruption will decouple supply chains from the environment and animals, as well as being fundamental to feeding the world’s expanding population. A full list of Agronomics’ portfolio companies is available at https://agronomics.im/.
About Cellular Agriculture
Cellular Agriculture is the production of agriculture products directly from cells, as opposed to raising an animal for slaughter, or growing crops. This encompasses cell culture to produce cultivated meat and materials, and fermentation processes that harness a combination of molecular biology, synthetic biology, tissue engineering and biotechnology to massively simplify production methods in a sustainable manner.
Over the coming decades, the source of the world’s food supply traditionally derived from conventional agriculture is going to change dramatically. We have already witnessed the first wave of this shift with the consumer adoption of plant-based alternative proteins but today, we are on the cusp of an even bigger wave of change. This is being facilitated by advances in cellular agriculture. This change is necessary, given scientists claims that if we maintain existing animal protein consumption patterns, then we will not meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting warming to 1.5℃
AT Kearney, a global consultancy firm, projects that cultivated meat’s market share will reach 35% by 2040. This combined with the Good Food Institute’s estimate that a US $1.8 trillion investment will be required in order to produce just 10% of the world’s protein using this technology, means that we are on the cusp of a multi-decade flow of capital to build out manufacturing facilities. Funding in the field of cellular agriculture is accelerating, however still less than US$ 2 billion has been invested worldwide since the industry’s inception in 2016.
This announcement contains inside information for the purposes of Article 7 of the Market Abuse Regulation (EU) No. 596/2014, as it forms part of UK Domestic Law by virtue of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. Upon the publication of this announcement, this inside information is now considered to be in the public domain.
For further information please contact:
|The Company||Nomad||Joint Broker||Joint Broker||Public Relations|
|+44 (0) 1624 639396
|+44 (0) 207 628 3396||+44 (0) 207 397 8900||+44 (0) 207 469 0936||+44 (0) 20 7930 0777
+44 (0) 7738 724 630