15 February 2023, Napa: The Material Innovation Initiative (MII) today launched the 2022 State of the Industry report: Next-gen Materials*. As per the report, next-gen material companies raised at least US$456.75 million from 28 publicly disclosed deals in 2022. The report highlights the investments, innovation, and industry partnerships that significantly impacted the next-gen materials industry in 2022.
2022 represented a more challenging investment atmosphere for the next-gen materials industry than 2021. However, looking at the 10-year track from 2013 to 2022, the capital invested and the number of deals continued their upward momentum.
Notable funding in the next-gen materials space in 2022 includes:
- MycoWorks’ US$125 million Series C round closed in August, followed by a Series C2 closed in October 2022, estimated at US$63 million.
- Natural Fiber Welding (NFW) closed US$83 million Series B in April, followed by a debt financing of $19.97 million in December 2022.
- AlgiKnit closed a US$15.46 million Series A funding round led by Collaborative Fund (also an investor in BOLT, NFW, and Modern Synthesis), which launched a new $200M climate-solution-focused fund with Stella McCartney this year.
- Cultivated leather startup VitroLabs secured Series A funding of US$47.40 million in May 2022; investors included global luxury fashion group Kering.
- Save the Duck was also acquired for an undisclosed amount.
Along with the increase in investments, the innovator landscape too continued to expand in 2022. The number of companies focused exclusively on developing next-gen materials rose to 102.
“Technologies and innovation can drastically revolutionize the business by developing environmentally preferred and animal-free materials that match brands’ and customers’ aesthetic, performance, and pricing requirements. It is an encouraging sign that the next-gen materials industry has grown beyond the innovators disrupting the incumbents. Established industry titans are also coming together to build a better materials industry for everyone.”, said Elaine Siu, Chief Innovation Officer at Material Innovation Initiative.
In 2022, more established material companies, fashion houses, and even automotive manufacturers announced their next-gen material offerings or their in-house R&D to create next-gen materials. Partnerships between industry brands and material innovators continued to accelerate in 2022. A few highlights include:
- In September, Allbirds released the Plant Pacer, a sneaker made with Natural Fiber Welding’s (NFW) next-gen leather MIRUM®.
- In October, General Motors announced its investment, via its VC arm GM Ventures, in MycoWorks to secure joint R&D in an industrial partnership seeking to develop a mycelium animal-leather replacement that best suits the interiors of GM cars.
- In November, tannery Ecco Leather—a company from Ecco Shoes, started working with Ecovative to create new leather-like alternatives.
The report also sheds light on the 2022 media crackdown on greenwashing claims by materials companies and brands. It highlights an urgent need for a multi-stakeholder coalition that can develop collaborative solutions for evaluating next-gen materials’ environmental impacts, help implement these solutions, and preempt incomplete, negative conclusions made by media sources.
“We expect 2023 to be a transition year in which the fashion industry figures out how to share accurate information around sustainability. With increased wariness of sustainability claims and lack of comparable environmental impact data, we expect more government regulation of sustainability claims, fewer companies discussing sustainability in their products, and less consumer understanding of the impact of their choices.”, said Nicole Rawling, Co-Founder, and Chief Executive Officer at the Material Innovation Initiative.
As the next-generation materials industry advances, investors and consumers are yearning to scale, go-to-market, and establish price parity. For this to happen, adopting next-generation materials that are high-performance, animal-free, and environmentally preferable is critical.
Notes to editor:
To read the entire 2022 State of the Industry: Next-gen Materials report, please click HERE.
*Next-gen materials are animal-free and environmentally preferable direct replacements for conventional animal-based leather, silk, fur, down, wool, and exotic skins (also referred to as “incumbent materials”). Next-gen materials use a variety of biomimicry approaches to replicate the aesthetics and performance of their animal-based counterparts.
About Material Innovation Initiative:
The Material Innovation Initiative is a nonprofit think tank that accelerates the availability of high-quality, high-performance, animal-free, and environmentally preferred materials. It works to cultivate a global market for next-gen materials across the fashion, automotive, and home goods industries. More information at www.materialinnovation.org.
Pari Trivedi, Chief Communications Officer, Material Innovation Initiative