This article is part of a blog series introducing the startup teams of the EIT Food Accelerator Network Helsinki 2023 programme.
Our current food system is broken and fails to provide enough food for humankind. The development and production of alternative proteins are currently at their peak, but to create nutritious and tasty meat and dairy alternatives, the entire recipe needs to be balanced. Fats are essential for improving the texture and juicy mouthfeel of food products, offering an unforgettable taste experience for customers.
This is where ÄIO steps in to change the current food system by shaping the future of fats and oils. ÄIO is a deep-tech startup from Estonia that is developing entirely new methods of fat production. Our mission is to replace palm oil, coconut fat, and animal fats with sustainable and healthier alternatives.
At ÄIO, we employ a fermentation process to “brew” fats and oils through the valorization of agro-industrial side streams and waste. Our proprietary strain is extremely robust and can thrive using carbon and nitrogen from a wide variety of sources, ranging from sawdust to whey hydrolysate and many more. The combination of robustness, high yields, and the use of abundant side streams makes our technology scalable and competitive with coconut fat and palm oil prices.
However, ÄIO’s aspirations do not end there. In addition to providing sustainable lipid alternatives for food, cosmetics, and green chemistry producers, ÄIO’s co-founders, Nemailla Bonturi and Petri-Jaan Lahtvee, possess expertise in molecular, systems and synthetic biology. They have initiated the process of creating a fully automated platform for strain engineering. This enables ÄIO to develop new cell factories for producing tailor-made lipids for customers. From omega fatty acids to cacao butter or tallow, the automatic cell designing system allows for high-throughput and high-quality novel lipid production.
The EIT FAN accelerator has been a great help during our journey. With its well-structured workflow and concrete assignments, EIT FAN has equipped us with new skills and tools on how to enter the market, internationalize our business, and deliver impactful pitches to investors. One of the greatest values of the EIT FAN program is the network it provides with corporates.
During the face-to-face collaboration days, new entrepreneurs have the opportunity to meet with well-established corporations, exploring potential collaborations and future clients. By engaging with different companies, you not only become acquainted with their challenges but also discover how your innovation can assist them. Additionally, pitching at the 1st Cellular Agriculture Conference in Helsinki as part of the EIT FAN Helsinki Cohort has facilitated the establishment of collaborations and the expansion of our network. EIT FAN is unquestionably one of the top accelerators where startups can truly experience and realize their value and growth potential.
Written by Luísa Czamanski Nora, PhD, Head of Straing Eng and Mary-Liis Kütt, PhD, CIO, Marketing and Sales
If you desire a juicy and tasty plant-based burger or a buttery and silky caramel sauce for your vegan ice cream, find out more about ÄIO on their website, and follow their journey on LinkedIn and Instagram. Learn more about the EIT FAN Helsinki program here.