Oleoflow’s approach combines two academic disciplines, food science and material physics. The solution is not only leading edge on the food science front, but also utilizes novel ultrasound technology to further enhance the physical properties of the fat.
Oleoflow’s fat offers food producers a totally new type of fat which is both healthier and more sustainable than the widely used traditional fats such as butter and palm oil. Oleoflow’s fat preserves the positive health properties of the underlying oil, while providing the structural and sensory attributes required in many food products.
The material physics technology used by Oleoflow enables optimization of the fat’s digested nutritional profile without modifying the chemistry of the fat. Oleoflow’s fat is also a more sustainable solution than existing fat alternatives, as it is fully plant based and can be produced using locally available oils – thereby replacing tropical oils, such as palm oil, associated with deforestation and loss of biodiversity.
Oleoflow is the first fat alternative to truly combine desired structure with a healthier nutritional profile. Earlier solutions have not met the industry’s high-quality requirements to convert liquid oils into semi-solid or solid fats.
The story of Oleoflow derives from Docent Fabio Valoppi’s long-running research in the field of oleogels, starting from the University of Udine in Italy and eventually leading to the formation of a small but ambitious group of food scientists in Finland at the University of Helsinki’s Viikki campus.
The spark for commercialization ignited when Valoppi met the research group of Electronics Research Laboratory, the home of deep-tech spin-outs, such as Glucomodicum Oy, Altum Technologies Oy and Nanoform Finland Oyj, jointly led by Prof. Ari Salmi and Prof. Edward Hæggström.
It was soon realized that all of them had recently begun to think more and more about how, through science, one could find solutions to the ever-increasing health issues emerging from our bad eating habits. As it’s clear that it can sometimes be challenging to try to influence how people eat, we need to make the things we eat healthier.
Soon, an innovation was created – by combining the expertise of Electronics Research laboratory in material physics and ultrasound actuation and the Valoppi’s group’s knowhow in engineering the healthiness of oleogel-based fats – and the idea for Oleoflow was born. Industrial R&D project designer M.Sc. Anton Nolvi from the Electronics Research Laboratory soon joined forces with Prof. Salmi and Docent Valoppi to form the founding team to start pitching the Oleoflow idea to potentical finance providers, and eventually Business Finland joined in with the R2B project.
Since then, the team has grown to approximately 10 researchers, who from the beginning had global aims. The team is comprised of brilliant researchers from six different nationalities assembled together in Finland. In the beginning of summer 2022, the team was joined by M.Sc. Econ Jyrki Lee-Korhonen, who took the commercial lead to pick up the speed even further.
“The innovation stands on the shoulders of decade-long leading-edge basic research, both in food and materials physics sciences at the University of Helsinki”, as industrial R&D project designer Anton Nolvi points out.
Nolvi describes material physicists and food scientists as a mix-matched couple that created the out-of-the-box approach for solving the long-existing demands for making healthier foods.
“But that marriage was only possible after both fields, oleogel and ultrasound actuation research, had first separately matured to the cutting-edge level that, a decade ago, was not possible.”
Nolvi thanks the safe scientific home of the University of Helsinki for allowing them to cultivate their high-flying basic research ideas, with time and dedication, into something concrete.
“It was the interdisciplinary mindset of the academic community that brought together these two research groups, which normally would not have found each other very easily. And what a prospering marriage it turned out to be!”
This commercialisation project funded by Business Finland has continued as a spinout company Perfat Technologies Oy.
Traditional fats, such as butter and palm oil, are risks for both health and sustainability. Up until now, no existing alternatives to traditional fats have met the industry’s high-quality requirements to convert liquid oils into semi-solid or solid fats.
Oleoflow is an innovative, new technology that converts healthy oils into semi-solid or solid fats. It produces engineered oleogels in a novel way, where the structure of oleogels is further refined using low power and high frequency ultrasound actuation.
There is a multibillion $ global market for fats used in diverse food applications, most, if not all, of which can be addressed by Oleoflow. The project is currently fully funded by Business Finland and The University of Helsinki until May 2023, after which Oleoflow could be spun out as an independent company.
Given Oleoflow’s proven technical qualities and strong IP (backed by 4 pending patent applications), the project will be ready for commercialisation in 2023. Oleoflow will be seeking to raise capital in early 2023.
Oleoflow is looking for both early-stage investors focusing on the food sector and industrial food producers seeking new fat solutions to add value to their food products.