Alternative mycelium-based material firm MycoWorks has announced the completion of a US$45 million Series B funding round, which will go towards the scale-up of its Reishi animal-free leather material. The round saw participation from major institutions and VCs, as well as a number of high-profile celebrities and fashion brands amid the growing demand from consumers for sustainable and cruelty-free options.
Announced on Tuesday (November 17), MycoWorks has raised US$45 million in its Series B financing, led by Taipei-based family office WTT Investment and Californian venture capital DCVC Bio. The round additionally drew participation from Chicago-based Valor Equity Partners, New York’s Humboldt Fund, Florida-headquartered Gruss & Co., Danish asset management firm Novo Holdings, AgFunder among others. Celebrities Natalie Portman and John Legend, as well as several undisclosed major fashion brands also invested in MycoWorks in the round.
Our vision is to grow the future of materials. We have found partners in these investors who see the long-term potential for MycoWorks to transform many industries with our patented Fine Mycelium technology.Matt Scullin, CEO of Mycoworks
The San Francisco-based alternative materials firm says that the funds will be used to prepare for the consumer launch of its proprietary material Reishi, in partnership with high-end fashion and luxury footwear brands. It will also be used to fund the opening of a new Reishi production plant in California, where the company will be able to scale-up production of its mycelium animal-free leather by more than 10-times to meet the “extraordinary demand” it has received this year, despite the economic downturn due to the coronavirus.
Reishi is the first product developed by seven-year-old firm MycoWorks, which is made out of the company’s Fine Mycelium platform. The Fine Mycelium sheets, which are grown and fine-tuned in a cultivation process, enables the creation of biomaterials that can deliver on key qualities of leather that are desired by fashion manufacturers, including versatility and performance in strength, durability and hand feel.
By virtue of being completely animal-free, the MycoWorks’ material is far more eco-friendly than traditional cowhide leather, which is a high-emissions process that requires cattle-rearing, not to mention unethical. Reishi also stands out as one of the few existing solutions for leather that can perform like its animal counterparts without using any petroleum plastics, though innovation in this area is growing with other biotechs developing similar solutions like Bolt Threads’ vegan mushroom leather material dubbed Mylo.
Commenting on the funding round, MycoWorks CEO Matt Scullin said: “Our vision is to grow the future of materials. We have found partners in these investors who see the long-term potential for MycoWorks to transform many industries with our patented Fine Mycelium technology.”
“We’re delighted to welcome Natalie Portman and John Legend, whose support for sustainable options in the fashion industry will only further our traction,” Scullin added.
We’re delighted to welcome Natalie Portman and John Legend, whose support for sustainable options in the fashion industry will only further our traction.Matt Scullin, CEO of Mycoworks
MycoWorks says that customers will be able to expect the first products made with Reishi to land in stores in the coming months ahead, as major fashion brands begin to look to innovative materials to clean up their carbon and waste footprint.
Aside from mycelium-based leather created by MycoWorks and Bolt Threads, brands have also started to incorporate other plant-based alternatives such as grape leather made from the byproducts of wine waste and upcycled floral leather.
All images courtesy of MycoWorks.