Protein innovator Enifer secures €36m in funding, new factory build on the horizon

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Photo credit: Iiro Muttilainen
Photo credit: Iiro Muttilainen

Related tags mycoprotein Enifer pet food Salmon

Enifer has announced the completion of a funding package worth €36m (US$39m) that enables it to start building a food-grade mycoprotein factory in Finland, with the initial output set to be feed grade.

The funding package comprises a new €15m Series B equity funding round led by the Finnish private equity fund Taaleri Bioindustry Fund I, with follow-on investments from existing shareholders Nordic Foodtech VC, Voima Ventures, and Valio.

That funding is complemented by the Finnish Climate Fund, which has extended a €7m junior loan to support the project and a €2m Climate and Environmental Loan provided by Finnvera, with that raise coming on top of the previously reported €12m recycling and reuse investment grant from Business Finland, making the new factory fully funded.

Set for completion by the end of 2025 and projected to cost €33m, the startup's new production plant will convert food industry side-streams into Enifer’s Pekilo fungi-based protein ingredients. At its core, the factory will harbor a full-sized industrial fermenter, standing more than 12m tall and measuring more than 4.5m in diameter, in which the mycoprotein is grown.

It will be built within an existing industrial building in Kantvik, Kirkkonummi, Finland.

“It's a brownfield site, but we're not tying into any particular feedstock there. We are leveraging the site for its existing infrastructure,” Simo Ellilä, CEO and co-founder of Enifer, told FeedNavigator.

The site, bordering the Baltic Sea and only a 30-minute drive from Helsinki city center and Enifer’s existing R&D facilities, offers all the required utilities, including steam, electricity, process and cooling water, and wastewater treatment. Set to ramp up operations in 2026, it will produce 500 kilograms per hour of mycoprotein, once it is at full capacity.

Target markets 

Pet food will be a target market initially for the new facility, with aqua feed also potentially on the site's radar. 

"The production costs will be relatively high so it makes sense to eventually target food production at this site. However, this project serves as a crucial demonstration of our technology.

"While we await the novel foods permit, our intention is to sell into the pet food market, where margins are higher than in aqua feed. Despite the higher production costs, we remain hopeful that we can make early commercial launches in health-oriented or starter salmon feeds from this first factory,” continued Ellilä.

The Pekilo fermentation process was originally developed in Finland in the 1970s and used to upcycle forest industry side-streams into feed-grade mycoprotein. Enifer has breathed new life into the process, adapting it to new raw material streams from food and agricultural industries and developing a food-grade version of the mycoprotein ingredient.

The company will file for EU novel foods approval of the ingredient in 2024 and expects to receive approval during 2026.


The startup’s process can utilize a wide range of feedstocks: “Once we switch to food production, lactose will become a critical feedstock raw material,” outlined the CEO.

Valio, one of the backers of Enifer, is keen on upcycling its lactose into a food-grade product, which presents a solid business case, he said.

“However, during the initial years when we are producing feed-grade products, we will use several alternative feedstocks. Molasses is an obvious choice, but we are also evaluating diverse types of side-streams, and the final mix has not yet been decided.”

Joint venture facilities

Last year, Ellilä explained​ that for aqua feed production, the biotech company was exploring partnerships with third parties—specifically operators in the bioethanol space—through joint ventures or licensing deals. Bioethanol sites produce large volumes of stillage, a liquid waste remaining after ethanol distillation, which Enifer's process can valorize.

"The original plan was to scale via that route," the CEO said. "But we encountered a few hurdles. One challenge is reaching a deal with these huge multinational biofuel companies. When you're a startup operating from a garage, even with a validated historical process, it's difficult to convince them to build a plant together.”

Additionally, investors expressed concerns about the scale-up plan relying on joint ventures or co-locating with these companies, he said.

“They questioned the reliability, asking, 'What if they turn off the tap?'

“For these reasons, we concluded that we need to build an intermediate-sized plant of our own to establish our independence. This approach allows us to stand on our own two feet before launching into joint ventures, which are still very much in progress. We are pursuing several joint venture facilities because they offer the right economics for aquaculture."

Asked if Enifer has secured any offtake deals with pet food or feed players, Ellilä said: “There's no solid offtake agreements, but we have many letters of intent that we expect to convert into binding contracts once the factory ramps up [in 2026].”

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