A world in which we won’t have to use land or water in order to produce food is closer thanks to the work of Solar Foods. The Finnish start-up aims to make food without the use of agriculture. They have created Solein, a revolutionary natural single-cell protein resulting from an all- natural fermentation process involving C02, water, and electricity. The end product looks and tastes like wheat flour and it contains 50% protein, 5-10% fat and 20-25% carbohydrate.
Another great advantage of the Solar Foods’ product is that it will not run out. It is not affected by weather, irrigation or soil. Consequently, it is possible to imagine that as the supply of this environmentally-friendly protein is increased, the world’s food carbon footprint will go down.
Solar Foods’ Solein’s original concept originated from a NASA space program and it was developed by the Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd and the Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT). As of 2018, Solar Foods is participating in the ESA Business Incubation Centre in Finland.
Innovation Origins had a short interview with Dr. Pasi Vainikka, CEO and Co-Founder of Solar Foods
What was the motivation behind the creation of Solar Foods?
About one-quarter of greenhouse gas emissions which are caused by human action is due to what we eat. We need major changes there in order to become sustainable on this planet.
What makes Solar Foods stand out from the pack?
We are not connected to agriculture and are still able to produce the world’s most environmentally friendly protein. A disconnect from agriculture provides interesting opportunities for scaling. Aside from that, we are able to play a part in many future foods instead of just one category.
Do you think that there are many start-ups tackling the same issue?
No. Those that exist are aiming at fodder, not food.
What has been the biggest obstacle that you have had to overcome during the whole Solar Foods process?
There have been so many critical moments along the way, I cannot name one. Maybe the biggest hurdle was having to deal with all of them.
Was there a moment in where you thought of giving up?
What has been the most gratifying moment in the whole process?
The moment we saw the real product/protein for the first time.
What can we expect from the coming years?
We are aiming to introduce it to the market in 2021. Which will mark the beginning of a global shift towards scaling.
What is your ultimate goal?
We would like to produce food in a very environmentally friendly way so that the planet is able to cope with it. We want to present a totally new, natural food which is viable and scalable. “Science is like magic but it is real.”