Mission Innovation finds new champion in Solar Foods CEO Pasi Vainikka

Pasi Vainikka, co-founder and CEO of Solar Foods has been recognised for his ground breaking work in clean energy innovation by being named as a Mission Innovation Champion for Finland.

Mission Innovation will this week recognise the first cohort of Mission Innovation Champions, researchers and innovators who are developing novel ways of making energy cleaner, cheaper and more reliable and using it more efficiently.

Launched at the Paris Climate Conference in 2015, Mission Innovation is a global initiative of 22 countries and the European Commission whose objective is to dramatically accelerate global clean energy innovation and make clean energy widely affordable and reliable.

Mission Innovation Champions are defined as ‘individuals with a track record of progressing creative new ideas that can drive the pace and scale of the clean energy revolution—the people who are inventing the products and services of the future or discovering the science that underpins them’.

Only one candidate can be chosen from each participating country and following a rigorous assessment process that commenced just over a year ago, Pasi Vainikka was selected as the Mission Innovation Champion for Finland.

He explains that he was familiar with the Mission Innovation initiative before being invited to submit an application for the Champions programme when it was launched in May 2018.

“Each application was assessed through a combination of peer review and an evaluation panel. The work we are doing at Solar Foods has been described as one of the highlights of the previous 12 months, which I believe was a major factor in my selection as Mission Innovation Champion for Finland.”

Vainikka has also been recognised for his contribution to Neo-Carbon Energy, the largest renewable energy research programme in Finland which, in addition to Solar Foods, produced spin-off projects including Soletair (a pilot plant producing fuel from air) and the world’s first simulation of global 100% renewable electricity through a system named the ‘Internet of Energy’.

“It is a great honour to be recognised as Mission Innovation Champion for Finland and it is also recognition of how innovation can be taken from academic and scientific research to commercial development,” he says.

“Scientists have an obligation to society to commercialise new ideas, concepts and technologies developed in the laboratory and Solar Foods is an excellent example of this. The planet needs more of this type of innovation.”

One of the stated aims of the programme is to facilitate engagement between awardees and Mission Innovation governments, research institutes, affiliated organisations and private sector investors.

“This is an important element of the initiative,” concludes Vainikka. “The support it has received from private investors means it can go beyond declarations and agreements into making deployments and investments. This high level acknowledgement of the work we are doing at Solar Foods will create additional opportunities to present our vision for the future of food production.”