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New York-based startup Bucha Bio has developed a solution for unsustainable materials like animal leather and synthetic fabrics. It has made a new biotextile called Mirai, grown from infinitely renewable bacterial-nanocellulose. And investors just poured $550,000 into the company to help scale it.
Bucha Bio has closed its latest oversubscribed round of funding with $550,000 to help make its biotextile solution a reality. The round saw participation from a number of VCs, including New Climate Ventures, Lifely and MicroVentures among others, as well as angel investors Cary Pinkowski, Nicholas Valeriano, and Fiona and George Sobek.
Proceeds from the round will help Bucha scale its flagship luxury biotextile, Mirai. It’s made from infinitely renewable bacterial-nanocellulose and could displace animal-based and plastic-based leathers.
Bucha Bio: growing renewable leather
Bucha grows its novel biomaterial, Mirai, from fermented bacterial nanocellulose and plants. It is 100% plant-based, contains no plastics and petrochemicals, and is completely biodegradable.
The alternative, which looks and feels like leather, can be incorporated into existing fashion designs and replace the use of petrochemical and animal-based fabrics, which are damaging the environment and are non-cruelty-free.
While there are existing leather alternatives on the market, Bucha’s biotextile solution falls into the “next-gen” category of material innovation. These are high-performance sustainable alternatives to traditional animal-based leather materials that, unlike PU leathers or “pleathers”, are displacing the need to use plastic-based components that still rely on fossil fuels in production.
With demand from conscious consumers on the rise, the Material Innovation Initiative (MII) predicts that this next-gen material sector will follow the trajectory of the alt-protein industry and become a $2.2 billion market by 2026.
Bucha plans to use the funds to scale Mirai, which can be produced in weeks rather than in months or years, the company says. Outside of the fashion industry, Mirai can be used in a number of premium applications such as home furnishings and car interiors, as well as in packaging and hard construction materials.
The New York company and graduate of IndieBio says that its textile also offers additional advantages in terms of functionality, including being resilient against water and sunlight, and is flame and scratch-resistant too.
Eric Rubenstein, managing partner of investor New Climate Ventures, says that brands are now looking for solutions like Mirai to incorporate into their designs to meet changing consumer expectations. “We are excited to partner with Bucha Bio as they advance the fashion and sustainable materials industry with their innovative and eco-friendly biomaterials, furthering our portfolio-wide mission of carbon reduction and removal across the globe.”
Bucha Bio is among a growing cohort of startups innovating material solutions, standing next to mycelium leather players like MycoWorks and Bolt Threads, as well as Modern Meadow, which is making lab-grown leather.
There are also pineapple leaf-based Piñatex or cactus-based Desserto leather, though these still contain a small percentage of non-bio-based components, which means it is not 100% biodegradable.
All images courtesy of Bucha Bio.