PEKILO®, an ingredient in the sustainable aquaculture feed. Photo: eniferBio blog.
PEKILO®, an ingredient in the sustainable aquaculture feed. Photo: eniferBio blog.

Aqua-Spark invests in “the sustainable aquaculture feed of the future”

The Dutch aquaculture investment fund has led the Series A financing round for eniferBio to scale PEKILO® as an ingredient in the sustainable aquaculture feed.

Aqua-Spark has added a new company to its portfolio. The Netherlands-based global aquaculture investment firm has led an €11 million ($12 million) Series A funding round for eniferBio. This Finnish biotech startup is focused on developing what Aqua-Spark has defined as the world's most efficient mycoprotein process. "We are very excited to work with eniferBio to scale PEKILO® as a positive ingredient in the sustainable aquaculture feed of the future", said Lissy Smit, CEO of Aqua-Spark.

With the funding raised, the company plans to increase production of its PEKILO® mycoprotein powder to thousands of tons per year and will seek Novel Food approval in the EU and other markets. Other companies such as Tesi, Valio, Voima Ventures and Nordic Foodtech VC, also joined the round.

What is PEKILO®?

According to Aqua-Spark, eniferBio is revolutionizing the alternative protein landscape with its innovative use of the PEKILO® process. PEKILO® is a fungus that, through a special fermentation process, can produce a protein-rich dry powder. The team of scientists at eniferBio has adapted this technology to recycle by-products from multiple industries and create a sustainable protein source with multiple uses, such as aquafeed or pet food now, and even plant-based proteins for humans in the future.

PEKILO® mycoprotein contains very high levels of protein (up to 70%), healthy carbohydrates, fats, and minerals, plus a high concentration of vitamin B. Its carbon footprint is more than 50 times smaller than that of beef and, as eniferBio points out, it does not require large land masses or water use like soybean cultivation. As mentioned above, Aqua-Spark's CEO has emphasized that it is "a positive ingredient in the sustainable aquaculture feed of the future".

"Greening aquaculture feed by eliminating our reliance on wild ingredients and reducing our footprint is one of our biggest priorities in getting to a more sustainable aquaculture industry", added Lissy Smit. "EniferBio's alternative feed ingredient serves as a replacement for soy in aquafeed. It significantly reduces land and water usage. Furthermore, early trials suggest that it has the potential to improve growth performance and immune response in fish".

Lissy Smit, CEO of Aqua-Spark. Fotografie t.b.v. Aquaspark. © COPYRIGHT: VINCENT BOON 2022 © WWW.VINCENTBOON.NL

Ready to expand operations

eniferBio already has ongoing partnerships with major global players in the feed industry, such as Skretting, the global aquafeed division of Nutreco, or Purina for pet food. Now, following this round of funding and almost three years after spinning off from VTT Technical Research Center Finland, the company is ready to expand its operations by building industrial production plants and applying for permission to spread the use of mycoproteins into new products and markets.

"We are extremely excited to have our new investors Aqua-Spark, Tesi, and Valio join us on our mission to feed the world with sustainable protein. Together they put a huge amount of new sector-specific know-how and networks at our disposal. We're also glad to see our long-term backers Nordic Foodtech VC and Voima Ventures double down on their bets and show their continued support for our vision", said Simo Ellilä, CEO and co-founder of eniferBio.

"We have a product that turns today's waste into a high-value ingredient. We can provide the world's most competitive protein production process and a product that has been tested on an industrial scale for over 15 years. We are now ready for the next phase of scaling our production and product use cases", he concluded.

About Aqua-Spark & eniferBio

Aqua-Spark is the world's largest sustainable aquaculture fund. With more than 300 investors in more than 25 countries – recently, one of them, Silverstrand Capital, invested €15 million more in the firm – since its creation in 2013 Aqua-Spark has increased the amount under management to more than €450 million. Its portfolio consists of small and medium-sized companies such as, among others, eFishery, Calysta, Oceano Fresco, Matorka, or eniferBio now. The company chooses each of its investments for their potential to generate financial returns and, at the same time, trigger positive environmental and social outcomes.

eniferBio Ltd. is a spin-off company of VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. It was founded by five scientists in 2020 with the goal of further developing and commercializing the patented PEKILO® technology. This process, originally developed and used by the Finnish forest industry on a commercial scale, enables the biotechnological conversion of dilute side streams into a protein-rich ingredient, PEKILO® mycoprotein.