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EIT Food RisingFoodStar Onego Bio raises $40M to scale up animal-free egg production

25 Jun 2024

In spring 2024, game-changing food-biotech startup Onego Bio completed its $40 million Series A funding round.

The Finnish startup is revolutionising protein diversification with the development of animal-free egg white, using precision fermentation, and is in fact the first company in the world to create real animal-free ovalbumin protein.

Onego’s Series A funding is one of the largest A-rounds in the Nordics, bringing the company’s total funding to $56M.

As one of EIT Food’s RisingFoodStars, Onego Bio is part of a prestigious entrepreneurship programme which selects startups based on their potential to scale solutions that address the long-term sustainability of food and agriculture in Europe. Chosen startups benefit from access to the world’s largest and most dynamic agrifood community of industry experts and leaders, research institutions and investors.

In addition, EIT Food has directly invested €1.5M in Onego Bio, recognising the incredible potential of its activities to contribute towards creating a healthier, more sustainable, and resilient food system.

“We’re delighted by the success of Onego Bio’s Series A funding round, having recognised the enormous potential of the startup when it joined EIT Food’s RisingFoodStars programme. We will continue to support Onego Bio to grow and scale, and look forward to being part of its ongoing journey to transform protein diversification for a more sustainable, resilient future food system.”

- Matthias de Kock, Senior Investment Manager, EIT Food

"We're incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by a passionate team and like-minded investors who share our vision for systemic change in the food system. This powerful combination has fuelled our rapid growth, allowing us to deliver a revolutionary ingredient that is unmatched in terms of functionality, taste and texture.”

- Maija Itkonen, Co-founder and CEO of Onego Bio

Cracking the code - Bioalbumen®

So, what does it mean to have a bioidentical animal-free egg protein? And how was it created?

Eggs are complex and full of different types of proteins that require significant effort and resources to recreate. Onego Bio has simplified this process by focusing on just one protein – ovalbumin – which makes up 65% of the total protein in egg white.

The startup has used precision fermentation to produce Bioalbumen® which is bioidentical to ovalbumin. While Bioalbumen® and ovalbumin have the same functionality and nutrition, Bioalbumen® is free from the sustainable-, ethical- and safety-related concerns related to chicken eggs.

Bioalbumen® can perform the same functions as egg whites in recipes, including foaming, gelling, binding and leavening, and has the same taste, texture and colour.

Why now?

Currently, the egg industry poses significant environmental challenges. 86% of eggs are still produced in carbon-intense industrial-farm settings, totalling over 200 million metric tons of CO2 each year.

Onego Bio is meeting this challenge head on through its mission is to rethink eggs and give people access to sustainable, delicious and healthy animal-free food.

In comparison with chicken eggs, Onego Bio’s product uses 95% less land and 72% less water. A single Onego full-scale manufacturing unit boasts a two-million-litre fermentation capacity, effectively replacing an egg farm with six million laying hens.

Onego Bio also has mechanisms in place to make its production circular, utilising agricultural waste as feedstock and offering the leftover biomass from the fermentation process to its innovative partners to make leather alternatives, packing materials and pet food.

What’s next?

Onego Bio is using its recent funding to fuel its North American go-to-market strategy, including scaling up to industrial-level production and expanding its US commercial team. By first launching in North America, where the regulatory landscape allows a faster market entry, the Onego Bio team is paving the way for expansion into Europe, South America and Asia.

EIT Food is determined to continue working with trailblazers like Onego Bio, who are revolutionising how we produce, manufacture and consume food for a healthier and more sustainable future.

Find out more about Onego Bio’s journey here.