Arkeon, a startup creating sustainable proteins through carbon capture, has raised a €2.75 million investment from ICL Planet Startup Hub. The Austrian startup is taking a pioneering approach to sustainable food production, is a startup we recently highlighted as one to watch, and is planning to scale. 

The reality of food insecurity has been laid clear. Put simply, we cannot sustainably continue to feed our growing population in the way that we currently are. Our planet is struggling and we need to rethink our diets and processes of food production. Faced with this challenge, foodtech, agritech and biotech innovators across Europe are coming up with solutions that will enable us to continue to eat nutritious, tasty food, without negative environmental consequences. 

Whilst there has been an interesting wave of plant-based products developed in recent years, and these products are becoming increasingly popular, we also have to consider the environmental cost of production. Arkeon, a startup based in Vienna, has developed a way to create nutritious proteins that are carbon negative and contain clean-label functional ingredients. We put the startup on our list of Austrian startups to watch this year, and now, it’s received €2.75 million investment, led by ICL from ICL Planet Startup Hub. The 2 companies are partnering to develop CO2-derived protein ingredients for food applications, using Arkeon’s carbon conversion process

In addition to the funding, Arkeon will gain full access to the ICL Food Specialities R&D labs and production facilities. 

Rado Sporka, vice president of the Food Specialties Commercial Business for ICL: “Although a young company, Arkeon brings to the table innovative and sustainable technology for use in creating the next generation of alternative protein products.  They also fully align with ICL Food Specialties growth strategy of pursuing new frontiers in unique and functional alternative proteins.” 

Founded in 2021, Arkeon leverages the power of ancient microbes (archaea) to convert CO2 directly into protein ingredients. The process is based on over a decade of research by Co-Founders Dr. Simon Rittmann, Dr. Guenther Bochmann, and Dr. Gregor Tegl. 

Gregor Tegl, PhD, co-founder and CEO of Arkeon: “I dedicated much of the past decade to exploring new and sustainable biotechnological methods of alternative protein production. Our team has harnessed proficiencies in microbiology and gas fermentation to create an entirely new regenerative food-production system.  ICL’s support and partnership will be instrumental in helping us scale our archaea-derived protein production capabilities.”

The startup’s one-step fermentation bioprocess creates completely customizable protein ingredients by capturing carbon dioxide and converting it into the 20 proteinogenic amino acids necessary for human nutrition.  The resulting alternative proteins are carbon negative, without genetic engineering and clean-label functional ingredients. 

Archaea, the microbe behind the protein solution, is part of the microbiota of all organisms. It naturally feeds on carbon dioxide and transforms these environmental emissions into nutritious protein – meaning the process is not just sustainable, it is also regenerative. Thanks to this breakthrough discovery, Arkeon has created a game-changing alternative for the food industry. 

Hadar Sutovsky, vice president of External Innovation at ICL, and general manager of ICL Planet: “Arkeon has achieved a major breakthrough, by finding a way to nourish people and revitalize our ecosystems at the same time. Arkeon’s dedication to developing a renewable and easy-to-use protein is completely in-line with our organization’s commitment to creating impactful solutions for humanity’s sustainability challenges in the global food markets.”

The Vienna-based team will now be able to use this funding and the support of ICL to scale production and fuel the vision to use archaea to feed a growing global population. 

Rado Sporka: “As an established corporation, we are able to offer our advanced infrastructure, extensive experience and accrued insights, plus market and regulatory related support.  We look forward to working with this promising start-up to unlock a whole new food category based on Arkeon’s unique protein discovery, which is not dependent on land and requires minimal use of water, providing it with a limited ecological footprint.”  

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