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Solein - Food out of thin air

Disconnecting food production from agriculture.

Photo of Pasi Vainikka

Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Solar Foods

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.


Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 3-10 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?


Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Countries with none or very littel agricultural land or are threatened by extreme weather and climate.

What country is your selected Place located in?

Morocco, western Sahara.

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

It has excellent renewable energy potential, huge land area, but limited potential for agriculture. It is an example for a location new the new world of agriculture could emerge. With cheap solar power combined with direct air capture of CO2, water and nitrogen we can turn the western Sahara to flourishing food production hub. There are similar locations also elsewhere on the sun belt (Sahara, Gulf and the US), plus areas with excellent wind power conditions in the northern and the very southern latitudes. Areas like inner Australia or Gulf countries could to tur food exporting areas despite the hostile climate and poor land quality.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

The video illustrates Solar Foods' future food factory. It produces Solein(r), Solar Foods' single cell protein about 8300tpa. It can be located in rural areas with good renewable energy potential.

Solar Foods's protein, Solein(r), is a completely new kind of protein that is produced without agriculture. The single cells as grown in a large brewery-like factory. The cells contain about 65% protein, the rest being carbohydrates and fat plus some nutrients. It is a complete protein including all the essential amino acids for human diet. Also, the cells are rich in vitamin B that is important particularly for vegetarians and vegans. It seem to contain vitamin A precursors that is good news for the 900 million night blind people in the word.

The single-cell protein can be used as:

1) a protein ingredient in existing foods such as bread, pasta, plant-based yoghurts or ready meals

2) protein ingredient in plant-based meat alternatives (meat patties, sausages, chicken, fish)

3) as a feed for cultured meat production, i.e. feeding real muscle cells grown in laboratory to replace cows or chicken.

By this way Solar Foods' protein is a platform technology for many familiar, but new, foods without the need for the consumer to adapt for new or strange tastes or foods. Solein can provide the disconnection from agriculture in a surprising diverse way.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

One quarter of the global greenhouse gas emissions due human action originate from the food system. Those emissions need to be nearly stopped in 30 years. At the same time global the population grows by 2 billion and the standard of living increases. These together will result in a huge increase in the consumption of animal based protein that will be completely unsustainable track for the planet. 

The solution is to develop a fundamentally more efficient food system. Solar Foods is start-up company founded in 2017 as a spin-off from VTT Technical research centre of Finland (Finland’s national research institute). It is aiming at to be the first company bringing to the market food produced without agriculture.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Solar Foods’ protein, named Solein(r), is an entirely new kind of sustainable protein produced using air and electricity as the main raw materials. This will revolutionize food production as “Solein protein” production is not dependent on agriculture, the weather, or climate. Solein production can happen in desert, arctic or even in Mars. Because the process does not involve agriculture, photosynthetic plants or animals, the Solein is the world’s most sustainable protein. It is the only one proposed to be carbon sink on real terms as the freed agricultural land be used for afforestation. CO2 emission on life cycle analysis (LCA) is 100 times less for solein than for beef and 10 times less than for plant based protein, see: Those areas and countries that are the most constrained with water and fertile land can benefit the most, as Solein protein production can happen even in the desert as long as for example solar photovoltaic electricity is available. CO2 and water needed can be captured from the air. Solein production is competitive with all other protein also with soy when scaling benefits are taken advantage of.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Our solution has ground to make the claim of providing protein for hundreds of millions of people, as we are not dependant on the climate, weather, water resources or agricultural land. 

Solein is the world's most environmentally friendly protein. The production does not us irrigation at all, it consumes 1000 less water than beef and 100 less than plant based protein. 

The protein is from a natural non-modified organism. It is not processed even if it is grown and harvested in a bioreactor. It is the most natural, but perhaps not most traditional, protein. 

High level gift to the society and the planed include:

Solar Foods' protein CO2 emissions on LCA are 100 times less for solein than for beef and 10 times less than for plant based protein. Desertification can be avoided as Solein production does not need arable land, therefore the land freed from agriculture and be afforested. As agriculture is not practiced, it help in i) reducing rates of soil erosion ii) maintaining nutrient cycles of the soil ii) reducing harmful fertilizer, antibiotic and pesticide inputs.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Disconnection from agriculture makes it possible to provide nutrition for those in remote areas and the most densely populated mega cities. It relieves people and animals from the burden of using a lot of efforts for agriculture and animal keeping. In addition to these, excessive water use (today 70% of fresh water is used for agriculture) and environmental emissions can be resolved.

New supply chains can emerge from companies like Solar Foods but mainly due to complementing technologies: real meat cells can be grown without animals or fish, eggs can be produced without chicken and milk without a cow. Still the ordinary people would enjoy the same food they used to.

Plants, fruits, vegetables and crops can be grown as before because their environmental footprint is rather small compared to animals.

The two trends above converge to a future where the food system is fundamentally more efficient than today. The benefits to the society are so huge there are no losers. On the contrary, the future well described recently in the Jan 26, 2020 LA Times, can be avoided. The story describes how the new Corona virus 2019-nCoV breakout has led to the largest quarantine effort in history due animal keeping.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • linkedin

Describe how your Vision developed over the course of the Refinement Phase.

Being a high-tech solution the technology and understanding its impact develop continuously.

We have been able to simulate the global production of Solein protein based on 100% renewable energy. It is suggesting covering all the regions in the world, instead of a one location in the original submission. Into this application we annex the key findings. We can now exactly say how much protein can be produced and where and at what cost. We have evidence the technology can be a significant scalable solution and can answer to the volumes needed.

During the refinement period we have been able to produce 12 different kind of consumer products from our protein. Our ingredient is becoming alive in real food products as we speak.

Thirdly we have found some superpowers of our protein, it is a good and natural source for B12 and A vitamins and iron.

During the refinement we have co-worked around these aspects with several stakeholders as described later in this application text.

Please provide the names of all organizations you meaningfully partnered with to develop this latest version of your Vision (they contributed at least 10 hours of time to the Vision development during the Refinement Phase).

Prof Mr Christian Breyer, Solar Economy, LUT University.

Prof Ms Hanna Tuomisto, Future Sustainable Food Systems, Helsinki University.

Ms Mervi Strengell, Project manager, Sweco Industry.

Mr Guy Baxter, founder GC Riever Compact SA.

Mr Daniel Rotko, MSc, International Space University.

Ms Minna Utriainen, Creative Innovation Lead, Avidly Finland.

Dr Jussi Loponen, Head of R&D, Fazer foods.

Describe the specific steps you took during the Refinement phase to include different stakeholders to develop your Vision, including a description (age, profile, and total number) of the stakeholders engaged, and how you engaged with each.


The main source of feedback for refinement is through social media and the public. We have 5000 subscribers to our newsletter. We get frequent questions in the social media and in the comment sections of on-line media.

The news in the Guardian resulted in 3,000 comments in the comment section altogether. Three thousand! It is feedback in a debating style. We follow and take part in the discussion that mostly have to do the environmental impact of our production and its impact as well as to what extent our protein can be considered natural. Also, the future of farmers is of concern to the large public. This internet-based free access feedback from the large public has prepared us in answering the most burning question and resulted us in formulating a Q&A:


Prof Christian Breyer is globally leading scientist in 100% renewable energy systems. With his teams we created the world’s first scenario for 100% renewable energy-based protein production, see

Prof Ms Hanna Tuomisto, Future Sustainable Food Systems, Helsinki University has carried out the life cycle assessment of our protein production, see .

Ms Mervi Strengell, Project manager, Sweco Industry has carried with her team basic engineering for our protein factory. Thanks to her we have the blueprints for the future of protein, see

Ms Minna Utriainen, Creative Innovation Lead at Avidly helped us in commercialization and positioning studies for Solein protein

Mr Guy Baxter, founder GC Riever Compact SA – a world-class facility manufacturing ready-to-use therapeutic food for use in the treatment of severe acute malnutrition in infants under the age of two.

Mr Daniel Rotko, MSc, International Space University developed Solein protein production technology for the most extreme conditions, see and

What signals and trends did you draw from to inform your Vision? Please provide data or examples that back up each signal or trend.

About 25% of the global greenhouse gas emissions originate from the food system and 75% from the energy system. As Solar Foods’ team has also a strong background in future energy systems’ research the impact of food production on climate was a big AHA moment for us. There are technologies for turning the energy system carbon neutral but there is no such technology for the food system. We wanted to go after it. With ever increasing population and standard of living (which, in turn, has historically always lead to increasing consumption of animal based protein per capita thereby further promoting the conflict with the environment) the extend of environmental problem around the food system was/is overwhelming.

Solar and wind power have become the cheapest sources of power on the planet in the past 5-10 years. We see this electricity (instead of fossil fuels) as the new primary energy and raw material for the sustainable world! Solar and wind power were laughed at some 10 year ago. But not anymore. We see contract prices for around $2ct/kWh for both power sources. Other interesting sectors that seem to go through electrification is transport and steel making ( ).

Most of the problem food system has has to do with land use. When we think clearing forest for agricultural land (resulting in loss in carbon stock in trees), use of nitrogen fertilizers (turning to N2O in soil which is 300 times worse than CO2 for the climate), use of phosphorus fertilizers (resulting in eutrophication) or the use of pesticides (resulting in loss of bees) these all are due to the necessity of using land for and operation called agriculture. WHAT IF we could disconnect from all this. That’s what Solar Foods is here for. We disconnect food production from agriculture.

We also disconnect from aquaculture. It is not widely acknowledged that the global peak fish cats was in1996, and about half of the global marina catch today is from aquaculture. Additionally, and again, the problem turns bac to land use as crops are grown to feed the aquaculture.

About 70% of fresh water withdrawals is used for agriculture. With the climate change progressing water stress (times when the water use exceed its renewal/supply). According the WRI ”17 countries - home to one-quarter of the world’s population - face “extremely high” water stress, where irrigated agriculture, industries and municipalities withdraw more than 80% of their available supply on average every year”. Solar Foods protein production uses only 1% of the water needed for growing plant protein in such most water stressed areas.

 Solar Foods’ process does not require the use of pesticides. This is good news as according to the scientist “40% of world species threatened with extinction” in the coming decades. These are primarily due habitat loss (conversion to intensive agriculture) and agro-chemical pollutants.

Describe a “Day in the Life” of a key food system actor within your food system in 2050 (e.g., farmer, chef, supply chain actor, food policy actor, etc.).

Three days:

David, living in New York, is viewing the food selection in the supermarket. He feels empowered. There are so many choices for food. They are actually a lot more than in his childhood when animal farming was still allowed. David picks up a beef burger. Could you imagine it was once required to kill an animal to get the meat. Now it is produced in a meat brewery, just close buy. He recalls it was a practice to feed the American beef with a mostly imported meal, today cultured meat cells are fed with Solein which production does not need agriculture at all.

Mr Xi from Hunan province, China, was formerly a pig farmer before the campaign in 2020 when he got education from youngsters from the big coastal cities about the internet. After her daughter returned from University in Shanghai they founded together an e-commerce online service for renting holiday apartments in rural China for the wealthy middle class coming from the big cities. Mr Xi himself is now a vegetarian and does not miss the times of hard physical work at the pig farm. It feels so unnecessary today.

Latifa in Libya, Benghazi, is viewing the scenery opening to the South-East from her office window. A desert is opening as far as the eye can see. When she was a child they used to collect firewood after school. For cooking. It was dark times. Some left to Europe as refugees. Latifa works for a company that turns something Libya has more than most countries in the world, sun, to food. It is called Solein protein. There is not much fertile land but it does not matter. Solein can be produced anywhere. Her company has a joint venture with Finnish Solar Foods for Solein production in Libya. Latifa is a sales manager in and is responsible for the company’s Solein sales to Asia. Next week she has a business trip to Seoul, South Korea. When she was collecting firewood in the desert at the age of 8, she could not imagine it would be the thawing desert that would feed her one day.

Environment | How will your food system of 2050 adapt to climate change and remain resilient?

Solar Foods’ vision disconnects food production from agriculture and is independent of climate and weather. Resilience through technology has been the very starting point and core driver in developing Solar Foods’ protein production.

In our vision for the climate resiliency is achieved by two primary means: disconnecting food production from environmental conditions/constrains and increasing the efficiency of the food system.

The reasons for inefficiencies in food systems are food waste, efficiency of photosynthesis (resulting in the need of a certain amount of hectares of land per yield) and the inefficiency of the animal (resulting in even higher demand for land, about a factor of 10 compared to plant based calories).

In Solar Foods’ vision the main climate burden of animal-based product production and consumption can be avoided without compromising the supply and consumption of the nutrition by animal-like products.

If the human population would go vegan, the world’s food-related emissions would drop by 70% by 2050 ( and we would save $1.5 trillion by 2050 in climate-related damages. In our vision for the future we can accomplish this same target but in an modern way, using modern technology.

Solein production does not us irrigation at all. It consumes about 0.2% of the water of beef  and 1% of that of plant based protein production.

Our vision does not propose the end of agriculture as plant based material and nutrition remains to be needed, but the land area and water demand required for producing sufficient amount of food for the human population gives arise for an environmentally sound and feasible future.

 Resiliency is also improved as animal feed would not be needed in our vision for 2050. This is a great relief as about 46% of the global harvest us used for animal feed, not food.

Diets | How will your food system of 2050 address malnutrition in all its forms (undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, metabolic disease) for the people living there?

Solein protein has superpowers. Superpowers mean the protein does provide good nutrition with a proper functionality (working technically in a food products as a protein rich and nutritious ingredient).

Solein is a complete protein. It contains all the 9 essential amino acids. An essential amino acid, or indispensable amino acid, is an amino acid that cannot be synthesized by the

body at a rate commensurate with its demand, and thus must be supplied in the diet. Of the 21 amino acids common to all life forms, the nine amino acids humans cannot synthesize

are phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine and histidine. If one of the essential amino acids is less than needed for an individual the utilization of other amino acids will be hindered and thus protein synthesis will be less than adequate.

A smaller amount of Solein compared to that of soybean can provide daily essential amino acid requirements of an adult. Also, Solein can provide suggested pattern of requirement (essential amino acids) for pre-school children, which is 2 3 times higher than adults. By 2050, 1 in 6 people in the world will be over the age of 65 and sufficient intake of protein is equally important for the elderly.

There are two primary forms of iron that are found in food, heme and non-heme. Heme iron is mainly found in meat, fish and poultry. Non-heme iron is found mostly in plant-based foods. The bioavailability of non-heme iron is between 2 and 20%. Heme iron, although mostly consumed in smaller amounts, is 2 to3 times more bio-available than non-heme iron. According to analysis, Solein is a rich source of iron. It is an important component of hemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen from lungs to transport it throughout the body.

Solein also rich in other nutrients such as phosphorus, manganese, magnesium as it grows in a nutrient rich solution.

Vitamin B12 is required for proper red blood cell formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis. Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products (fish, meat, poultry, eggs, dairy) and generally not present in plant foods unless artificially fortified. Some nutritional yeast and algae products also contain vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency can potentially cause severe and irreversible damage, especially to the brain and nervous system. Vitamin B12 deficiency has been observed in between 40-80% of the vegetarian population who are not consuming a vitamin B12 supplement or fortified foods. According to analysis, Solein is a rich source of Vitamin B12 (and other B vitamins). Solein can serve as a natural source of B-group vitamins to maintain health without relying on animal products and supplements.

 Carotenoids are yellow, orange, and red organic pigments that are produced by plants, algae, fungi and several bacteria. They give the characteristic color to pumpkins, carrots, corn, tomatoes, salmon, lobster, shrimp, etc. Single cell protein (SCP) from microalgae is also rich in carotenoids along with other healthy fats. Carotenoids plays a role in protecting the eyes from the harmful effects of oxidation and light-induced damage.

Economics | Where and what will the jobs be that support living wages in your future food system of 2050, and how will these jobs impact gender equality?

Solar Foods vision is a technology-based vision. Is builds on possibilism, where technology enables, makes possible, new things phenomena, trends. And not least: new ways of work.

Three underlying forces technological progress, globalization and ageing populations re-shape the future of work. At the moment of writing this in the early summer 2020 it is the COVID time where new ways of work are demonstrated globally through e-meetings, e-commerce and new ways of remote co-creation. This demonstrates there is a new layer of technology that can provide a platform for new ways of work. The ICT platform, although not available to everyone, makes the work equal for everyone and equal to genders.

Solar Foods vision relieves labour from the agriculture, possibly to a significant degree. Looking to the history this has happened before: farmers and ranchers make today up just 1.7% of the employed US population, totalling around 2.6 million people. Meanwhile, back in 1840, workers in the agriculture industry made up 70% of the American workforce. At the same time soybean yield has doubled, real price halved. Corn yield has increased 4-fold and real price halved. These steps have been enabled by technology.

Despite the yields has been increasing they are flattening, and the productivity of the agricultural sector has bend slowing since the 1990s. This means despite the farms are in the hand of few (fever that ever before) it does not ensure stable income. One tangible example is the milk consumption per capita has halved in the US since 2000 (

Solar Foods vision gives arise for the renewal of the world’s largest industrial sector: the food system.

According to the OECD: “Despite anxiety about job destruction driven by technological change and globalisation, a sharp decline in overall employment seems unlikely. While certain jobs and tasks are disappearing, others are emerging, and overall employment has been growing.”

The purchasing power of wages has been stagnating for many workers and job stability has been declining. Something new must be created. Job losses are concentrated among certain groups of workers and in some regions, and some workers suffer disproportionately from poorer job quality than others. Failing to address such growing disparities will result in deeper social divisions, with adverse implications for growth, productivity, well-being, and social cohesion. Thses must be taken into account in policy making.

 The technology based vision of Solar Foods in the case expanded widely in the society to another sectors of the economy too (automation, robots), may give arrive for new kind of basic income ( ).

Culture | How will your 2050 food system ensure that the cultural, spiritual and community traditions and/or practices in your Place flourish?

Solar Foods vision relies on technological change, even disruption. There are two ways think the interplay of culture and technology: how much technology changes the culture AND how much culture fastens or hinders the adaptation of new technologies.

The aftermath of COVID-19 will tell us a bit similar story than the Solar Foods technology-based vision. Is it the black swan triggering the breakthrough of modern food technology? Yes, we think so. It will make the transition to a more transparent, socially and environmentally sound food system faster. This will happen due to two primary needs human has:

One, the need for social interaction. Prisons were invented in the history as they make individual first passive and later almost depressed and socially inactive. Once we all get released from the voluntary guarantee of COVID-19 we will appreciate social interaction so much more than we have for a long time. Or if we apply new technologies for food, still the communication layer around food remains. We will appreciate food as a part of social interaction perhaps more than ever when new technologies emerge. Food has higher values than only nutrition and being environmentally sound. It is a framework for the basic human need for interaction. Solar foods vision is not in conflict with this basic need.

Secondly, people will in future value the transparency and narrative around the food arriving on their plate a lot more the they used to. Albeit technical, Solar Foods’s vision gives basis for transparency in the food chain.

 We claim it is the current food system that does not support and enable local food production as in the old days. Only small fraction of global population can be locally fed, therefore local food production based on conventional agriculture can not be a solution for a food system. But it can be a solution for maintaining the heritage and cultural interaction. Focus on the cultural aspect of food can be maintained in the case the main calorific supply can be provided without risking the culturally important land to be taken into the use of industrial agriculture.

Technology | What technological advances are needed to transform your food system into one that meets your goals and embodies the values of your Vision in 2050?

he underlying and fundamental advancement has to do with various aspects of disconnection from the inefficiencies of current agriculture and land use.

Solar Foods itself as technology solution is an example where naturally occurring organisms and species can be efficiently harvested for food. Technical development is simply to identify, grow and harvest species we have not eaten before. These can also be the most natural sources of food, albeit not traditional.

Solar Foods’ Solein protein can be used as:

1) a protein ingredient in existing foods such as bread, pasta, plant-based yoghurts or ready meals

2) protein ingredient in plant-based meat alternatives (meat patties, sausages, chicken, fish)

3) as a feed for cultured meat production, i.e. feeding real muscle cells grown in laboratory to replace cows or chicken.

By this way Solar Foods' protein is a platform technology for many familiar, but new, foods without the need for the consumer to adapt for new or strange tastes or foods. Solein can provide the disconnection from agriculture in a surprising diverse way.

Genetically modified products raise emotions. It remains to be seen how they will be accepted. In every case they are another example of new foods that bypass some part of the inefficiency in the current food system. We know today meat and milk have been produced without a cow and egg has been produced without the chicken. The technology future is amazing!

These technologies bypass something fundamental in the current food system and gives also an opportunity to new companies and startups to become part of the solution to the food problem. So far it has been the game for only the big food companies and co-operatives. New technologies empower new stakeholders and also the individual to be par to the solution when he is empowered to make good choises.

A third aspect to the technical advancement is personalized nutrition. As we learn more and more about the impacts of different molecules and diets personalization of a meal becomes possible. To answer the question: what is the right meal for me.

 These aspects take us to the future where they all emerge: new foods and ingredients can be produced very resource efficiently, they can be tailored in composition, the development of sensor technology provide new data of our bodies and its response to food, and all this is communicated by the ICT infrastructure to the final preparation of the meal.

Policy | What types of policies are needed to enable your future food system?

Food and its emissions is an important part if the individual’s climate foot print. There the world is strikingly inequal: the poorest half of the global population – around 3.5 billion people – are responsible for only around 10% of total global emissions attributed to individual consumption. Around 50% of these emissions meanwhile can be attributed to the richest 10% of people around the world, who have average carbon footprints 11 times as high as the poorest half of the population, and 60 times as high as the poorest 10%. The average footprint of the richest 1% of people globally could be 175 times that of the poorest 10%. This implies in what has to do with climate policy we need to start with the richest who can also first afford the new technologies.

An enabling policy is needed. Also called possibilism. Enabling means there is a policy that allows new innovation instead of supporting the re-building the old structures with industry subsidies. Enabling policy means the actual solutions are not preferred by policy makers but the innovation and its adoption is allowed by the regulator.

The adverse effects on the labour market associated with deep and rapid structural changes are not inevitable, and policy can and should play an important role in shaping the future of work. Steering these changes will require a whole-of-government approach, engaging with the social partners, and civil society.

Education plays an important role. No one knows how the the world will be in our technology-based. Therefore, the best we can do is to be prepared. This means education.

Describe how these 6 Themes connect with and influence one another in your food system.

Food out of thin air as a concept and technology is primarily an environmental technology. Providing scalable solutions and scaling up technology by rolling it out from the laboratory is the gift of Solar Foods’ scientist to the society. Anything that is in conflict with the Paris climate accord in reaching the 1.5°C world does not work in our books.

This is not to compromise with health and diet. We have taken the approach to just take advantage of the diversity of life on our common planet and will offer a new harvest. As it is a natural, albeit not traditional, food source it is also nutritious in the most natural way. Solein is a complete protein with vitamin B12 which are the first requirement set for a food to replace animal products.

The future of technology, that also the food system may enter to, need careful policies in the distribution of wealth and income. This must happen on a global level, thereby underlining the importance of the international co-operation platforms and policy programs.

Once the food system has been turned sustainable we can also pay more attention to the roots of our food. Local food can not be sufficient to supply all the global calories, but most important is cultural land will not be cleared away of new agricultural land. There can be a future where culturally associated food and the original indigenous food co-exist with a modern development. Through modern technology accompanied with good policies. The current trend in the food system is to clear the cultural part, drive away people from their ancient lands in order the industrial scale high-land consuming agriculture to expand.

 Technology is there to empower the individual to make good choices. That is what Solar Foods want to achieve. Finally, it will be nearly 10 billion people on the planet in 2050 with each person making about 200 food related decision per day. That is 2 trillion food related decision per day. If we direct that for good, it has a massive impact.

Describe any trade-offs you may have to make within your system to attain your Vision by 2050.

Technologies, automation and data tend to concentrate the power to the hands of only few. In the future of connectivity, data and monitoring we need to take special care of privacy and data protection. These do not have specifically to do with Solar Foods vision, but overall the technical advancement in the society.

 Whilst making the future good and even better for an individual it requires we know something about her/him. Such as realising personalised nutrition. This data can be quite intimate. Data privacy cam have a hindering effect on the transition to personalised nutrition.

3 Years | Describe 3 key milestones that you would need to achieve within the next three years for your Vision to be on track?

In 2022 Solar Foods protein will be in the market. First foods without agriculture or aquaculture have been made available. Currently we are producing Solein protein at our pilot plant for testing purposes. The pilot plant is a replica of the future factory. It can capture CO2 and water from air and turn that to food which can be even prepared to food products at the site.

First milestone is to follow the regulation of the current food system and obtain a novel food approval. Globally. This is to prove through extensive testing our ingredients is safe and nutritious. This work is on-going. Second, we need to build a small factory. We call it a demonstrator and it has already been pre-engineered. The blueprints are there. Thirdly, we need to raise funds to be able to execute that plan.

10 Years | What progress will you need to make—by 2030—that would set your Vision up to become a reality by 2050?

By 2030 we have build our first factories globally. Solein start to appear in several different kinds of food categories globally. The phase from 2025 to 2030 is global scaling. In 2030 we will see Solein feeding cultured meat production.

This requires the interplay of several new companies that might not even exist today. The founding layers are there, a new industrial sector is currently being formed: the modern food-tech industry.

If awarded the $200,000 prize what would you do with it?

We use that money to submit and pass through the novel food regulation. It laborious and expensive to get a new food to the market that is unknown to the current food system.
The gift of the prize to Solar Foods would also be a gift to the world in the form of a new harvest.

If you are chosen as a Top Visionary, The Rockefeller Foundation would like to share your Vision widely with a global audience. What would you like the world to learn from your Vision for 2050?

It is condensed here in 100 seconds: 

Please share a visual that communicates the structure and operation of your food system in 2050. Describe the visual.

Images of the future food consumers and those impacted and empowered by the new food system. Images of the solen facotry in remote areas, and the the food map of the future food world order (productin cost of Solein globally in 2030).


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kevin Hallinan

I am on the 1.5'ers semi-finalist team. I REALLY love your visual symbol. Nice job!

Photo of Pasi Vainikka

Thanks Kevin!

Photo of Alice Bischof

Dear Pasi,

I would like to exchange some ideas with you and your team and explore a potential collaboration with SuperGardens – I could see the integration of your technology also enhancing climate resilience and sustainability of food produced locally in Berlin. If you are interested, I would be more than happy to hear from you! You can also write me an email to

Looking forward to your answer.

Best wishes,

Photo of Pasi Vainikka

Alice, just sent you an email.Let's discuss it.

Photo of Chase Mena-Slade

The value in this idea is clear. To be able to produce protein without the negatives of CO2 emission and a much less amount of fresh water would be incredible. It would change many of the projections of the deforestation of the earth over the next 30 years if we can provide food for the growing global population with the efficiency stated above.

The idea sounds too great to fail if everything stated is true, honestly if the protein being able to be created is already a thing then I'm wondering why this hasn't swept the nation (US) already. I'm assuming there is a lot more testing to be done. I would worry most about this being presented as an immediate solution that would turn the earth around over the next 30 years. Mostly because we have no idea how this type of protein and consuming it en masse will effect the animals claiming to be able to be created or how humans will react to eating this type of protein consistently over time. That's something that not only requires testing but also just takes more time than seems to be available for this protein to be the answer to todays problems. I hope there is just more testing needed until we can move forward with this full tilt but if we don't know how animals and humans react to a diet of this over a life cycle or so then it seems we haven't done our due diligence. The potential upside of this is astronomical but I think it can be easy to look ahead without answering some of the questions that seem to be in our face currently.

Photo of Pasi Vainikka

Thank you, I love the drawing!!

Photo of Daniel Steiniger

With so much less CO2 emissions, will there be problems for plant life to increase growth due to one of their main sources of growth is decreasing?
Plant life has been reduced immensely by the human race due to logging and agriculture. The Amazon forest has been reduced in size because farmers need land to properly grow crops and raise animals. One of the statistics I read was that CO2 emissions are one hundred times less than beef and ten times less than plants. If the main source of protein for the human race becomes solein, that will cause an intense drop in CO2 emissions. There is a lot of benefit to reducing emissions, but will it be too much so that plant life reduces in growth. It seems far-fetched, but solein has the potential due to its benefits especially for the mega cities.

How will the population of animals like cows and chicken be affected due to the reduced consumption? Will they become wild or will specific places still grow and butcher them for “delicacies” especially when compared to Solein.
With reduced consumption of these organisms who knows what will happen to them. The real meat that we get from them could very well become delicacies for the upper class to enjoy. This wouldn’t have very much impact, but creates the opportunities for the restaurant business to become much more expensive. Opening up avenues for new businesses is great for the economy as some places would simply switch to solein and use it as a cheaper alternative.

This is a very valued idea because it can potentially feed the entire planet in a much more efficient way and reduce our emissions that are destroying the planet immensely.
Solein is a massive opportunity for the human race to potentially reduce our impact on not only the food chain, but the planet itself. Our impact on the food chain will change immensely due to the majority of the population reducing their consumption of organisms beneath us. To properly calculate what this initiative will ensue would take teams of people an insane amount of time. The planet itself will also feel the change. There are many roads this path could lead to but the most obvious impact of the replacement to protein would be the reduced CO2 emissions. The earth having higher air quality is the first to come to mind. With increased air quality and reduced consumption of organisms, many species that have become endangered may be able to thrive. One of the statistics I read talked about how the human population will increase two billion by 2050. With such a spike, there will be reduced habitat for these animals. There is a lot to think about what impact this will have on the earth and the organisms that live upon it. I feel that there should be an accurate prediction on what the mass production of solein would cause.

Photo of Mat Jones

Hi Pasi,
Many congratulations on getting through to the next stage. I think your idea would be fascinating to test out with citizens in an urban area like Lagos. We certainly thought it might have real traction as part of localising food systems in low income urban contexts where there's plenty of sun.
Best wishes

Photo of Itika Gupta

Dear Pasi Vainikka  , Congratulations on being shortlisted as a Semi-Finalist. Welcome to Refinement!

Through refinement, we'd like to see the details in the broad strokes of the Vision you painted for your region.
How might you bring your Vision into sharper focus through:
1. Building partnerships and forming a systemic and multi-disciplinary Vision Team
2. Visualising your future food system to help people see and feel the future of their food system
3. Assessing the feasibility of your future food system to better anticipate its needs and challenges

We invite you to take full advantage of the open platform here – to tag in team members into your Vision, connect with other Refinement teams, and solicit feedback from participants around the world.

It’s great to continue with you into this next phase. Consider me your support for questions you might have while on this platform.

Looking forward to seeing a detailed and Refined Vision for your region in the coming weeks.

Photo of Itika Gupta

Hi Pasi Vainikka  Great to see you joining the Prize!
Lovely to see such a disruptive Vision that questions the fundamental premise of agriculture being the source of the food we consume. We noticed your submission is currently unpublished. Was this your intention? We'd love to have your submission included in the Vision. You can publish it by hitting the "Publish" button at the top of your post. You can also update your post by clicking on the "Edit Contribution" on top. In case you need any inspiration, you can look at the Food Vision Prize Toolkit. We're looking forward to seeing your Vision submission in this Prize.