The VTT-led EIT FAN accelerator welcomes alternative protein startups

The EIT FAN Helsinki 2022 acceleration programme team

The VTT-led EIT FAN Helsinki Hub organises the fourth free-of-charge acceleration programme for agri-food technology startups. The FAN Helsinki Hub’s topic is Scaling the alternative protein revolution. Ten promising alternative protein startups will be selected to join the two-month programme. The programme culminates in Demo Day’s pitching event during the 1st Cellular Agriculture Conference, directly to the target audience. Applications can be submitted until March 26th.


The EIT Food Accelerator Network (FAN) was founded in 2018. Since then, the FAN Hubs around Europe have helped over 300 pre-seed stage agri-foodtech startups validate their technology and accelerate their business – and in total, raise over €200M in investments. The EIT Food Accelerator Network is the world’s largest food innovation community of 160 industry and academic partners, more than 200 mentors and experts, and over ten investors.

In 2023, the five FAN Hubs across Europe seek startups within the hub-specific impact areas. The Helsinki Hub’s topic is Scaling the alternative protein revolution, including subtopics such as cellular agriculture, precision fermentation, and microbial and algae biomasses. All respective pre-seed startups established in an EU member state or Horizon Europe-associated countries can apply to the two-month programme led by VTT in collaboration with the University of Helsinki.

”We have made some changes to this year’s programme. It’s now topic-specific, covering the whole European market area, and more intensive, yet two months shorter. We are excited to be able to focus on startups of the alternative protein revolution. Finland has deep roots in cellular agriculture, and we genuinely are the forerunners of the field. It is about time we spread our knowledge abroad and help the new generation of startups to break through in the European markets”, comments Mirva Lampinen, Co-Creation Manager at VTT and EIT FAN Helsinki Hub Leader.

The application period is open from the 26th of January until the 26th of March. A panel of impartial experts evaluates and selects ten startup teams for the programme run from the end of April until the end of June 2023. The selected teams will get a unique opportunity to receive high-quality mentoring and matchmaking with industry experts, corporations, and academic institutions without future commitments or fees.

The EIT FAN Helsinki programme guarantees visibility, meaningful business connections and endless opportunities for the selected teams

The EIT Food Accelerator Network’s global partners, such as PepsiCo, Döhler and Danone, provide unique collaboration opportunities to all FAN Hubs. On top of that, the hubs also have their own set of local partners. The Helsinki Hub continues its partnerships with Valio, Lantmännen, Paulig, PINC/Paulig Incubator, Nordic Foodtech VC, and Nordea.

“Partnering up with the EIT FAN Helsinki Hub brings us to the forefront of food system innovations. In addition to staying on top of the latest news in the field, we get to build valuable relationships and network with research institutions, growth companies, and industrial partners. For Paulig Group, it’s of paramount value to be able to pilot the growth companies’ ideas, evaluate them, and see if they can be applied to solve business problems or create new international business opportunities. From Paulig’s investment operations’ point of view, we also hope to find future highflyers to invest in”, says Kalle Riihinen, Science and Innovation Manager at Paulig Group.

In addition to having the possibility to collaborate with the programme partners, the EIT FAN Helsinki Demo Day will provide an extraordinary opportunity to network and create brand awareness.

The FAN Helsinki programme Demo Day will be part of the 1st International Cellular Agriculture conference on June 14th in Helsinki, which gathers around 250 cellular agriculture experts and investors internationally. Bundling the Demo Day together with the conference creates an extraordinary opportunity for pitching in front of the target audience, including venture capital firms.

The business acceleration continues long after the EIT FAN programme

The FAN Helsinki Hub has conducted three acceleration programmes within the past three years, translating into 30 EIT FAN Helsinki alumni companies. As a result, we are already witnessing incredible success stories from that group, like Solar Foods, which has recently received the most extensive public grant funding for cellular agriculture in the world – €34 million.

eniferBio represents another inspiring FAN Helsinki alumnus journey. In 2022, they partnered with EIT FAN Helsinki programme partner, Valio, to bring the PEKILO protein to dinner tables.

“When we applied for the programme in 2020, eniferBio had recently been established by a group of entrepreneurs new to running a startup, and the negotiations on seed funding were still ongoing. To eniferBio, the EIT FAN programme provided great training in skills necessary in the early startup life”, says Joosu Kuivanen, COO & Co-founder of eniferBio, EIT FAN Helsinki alumnus from the 2020 cohort.

The takeaways of the FAN programme are way beyond business development, tech validation, and fine-tuning the pitching. The programme opens many doors that can further accelerate the business.

Fermentful did not only apply to the EIT FAN Helsinki programme to validate the product and explore the target markets but also to expand our network within the European food-tech industry. We have gained recognition and credibility from the programme for our primary export market, Finland, and made significant connections within and beyond the EIT FAN Helsinki Hub. We have stayed highly active in the EIT Food community, and its network helps us to achieve our goals faster. Just recently, Fermentful was selected as one of the five startups for a pilot project with one of Poland’s biggest retail chains of 9 000 stores. That’s an opportunity that came up to us from the EIT Food community”, tells Anda Penka, CEO and Co-Founder of Fermentful, EIT FAN Helsinki alumnus from the 2022 cohort.

Register and apply now!