Onego Bio’s Animal-Free Egg White Wins Fast Company 2023 World Changing Ideas Award

Fermentation startup Onego Bio announces its development of Bioalbumen™, an animal-free egg white protein, has been selected as a winner in Fast Company’s 2023 World Changing Ideas Awards. Bioalbumen was named the Winner of the Food category and a Finalist in the Agriculture category. 

“Precision fermentation is the newest chapter in the history of making food without animals”

Produced with precision fermentation, Bioalbumen harnesses a scalable biotech process that uses the microorganism Trichoderma reesei. In a method akin to beer production, the microbes are fed water, sugar, and certain minerals to produce Bioalbumen powder, which is identical to egg white protein powder. 

According to Onego Bio, Bioalbumen provides all the nutritional and functional benefits of egg whites without the environmental, safety and supply chain concerns of chicken eggs. The product also maintains the performance of real egg whites, including foaming, gelling, binding and leavening properties that can be challenging to replace with other ingredients. 

Onego Bio Ltd
Cultivated egg white powder ©Onego Bio Ltd

Onego states its unique technology can be scaled into large industrial bioreactors that produce exact levels of the desired protein with little to no waste. Side stream biomass that does occur can be utilized to make packaging materials or even animal-free mycelium leather.

One of nature’s wonders

“We’re honored to have Bioalbumen recognized by Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards as the winner in the Food category and finalist in the Agriculture category,” said Maija Itkonen, cofounder and CEO of Onego Bio. “As widely used as they are, egg whites are often the last frontier before entirely animal-free products can be manufactured. Ovalbumin is ‘one of nature’s wonders’.

“We anticipate that by bringing such an important ingredient to the market, many food system challenges can be solved, even outside of the egg market.”

Egg whites and desserts made through precision fermentation
©Onego Bio

10x better yields

In the past year, US egg prices surged 70% following higher feed costs and multiple outbreaks of avian flu. Based on an anticipatory life cycle assessment, Onego Bio says production of Bioalbumen has the potential to reduce land use, water use and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% compared to traditional egg white powder production.

While chicken egg prices are predicted to remain high, Bioalbumen can offer price parity with 10 times better yields, says Onego. 

“Bioalbumen is not a substitute,” adds Itkonen. “It is the real thing. It is part of an emerging category of animal-free ingredients produced through fermentation. Precision fermentation is the newest chapter in the history of making food without animals. It allows us to provide people with food that is sustainable, tasty, and healthy—without cutting any corners or making any compromises.”

Cupcake made with animal-free frosting
©Onego Bio

Strategic alliances

Based in Finland, Onego raised 10M in 2022 to commercialize its breakthrough egg white production technology. Last September, the company partnered with Perfect Day Foods as the first public partner of Perfect Day’s nth Bio precision fermentation hub.  

In March Onego joined other leading names in global food tech to launch Food Fermentation Europe, an alliance formed to work with regulators and advocate for Europe’s animal-free food tech sector.

Fast Company’s annual World Changing Ideas Awards honor businesses and organizations that are developing creative solutions to the world’s most urgent issues. Out of 2,200 entries, judges selected 45 winners, 216 finalists, and over 300 honorable mentions in the categories of health, climate, energy, and more. 

Maija Itkonen Onego Bio Ltd
Maija Itkonen ©Onego Bio Ltd

“It’s thrilling to see the creativity and innovation that are so abundant among this year’s honorees,” said Fast Company editor-in-chief Brendan Vaughan. “While it’s easy to feel discouraged by the state of the world, the entrepreneurs, companies, and nonprofits featured in this package show the limitless potential to address society’s most urgent problems.

“Our journalists have highlighted some of the most exciting and impactful work being done today—from housing to equity to sustainability—and we look forward to seeing not only how these projects evolve but how they inspire others to develop solutions of their own.”

>> Click here to go to Cultivated X where you will see a familiar layout and a focus solely on content regarding cellular agriculture, including fermentation-enabled products, and with more granular categories.

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