With Help From Jaguar Land Rover, Uncaged Innovations Raises $2 Million for Bio-Based Leather

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Uncaged Innovations, a biomaterials startup focused on sustainable leather alternatives, has raised $2 million in a Pre-Seed funding round.

Uncaged’s funding comes from investors, including InMotion Ventures, Jaguar Land Rover’s (JLR) investment arm. Other mission-driven funds and syndicates striving to replace the use of animals in supply chains participated in the round, including VegInvest, Stray Dog Capital, Alwyn Capital, Hack Capital, and GlassWalls Syndicate.

High-performance vegan leather

The company says the funding will be used to launch next-generation high-performance vegan leather — a sustainable alternative to traditional animal products that do not compromise on luxury feel or durability. Uncaged has developed a formulation library for producing biomimetic leather alternatives based on composite plant-based proteins and polypeptides.

Photo by Ivars Krutainis at Unsplash.

By leveraging grain proteins as the fundamental matrix and incorporating other natural components, Uncaged says its bioleather mimics the fibril structure of collagen to provide the performance of animal leather. The company’s platform offers the tunability to generate materials exhibiting various mechanical and aesthetic properties, fitting for multiple end-use applications.

Uncaged’s tech has earned it the highly-coveted National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to support the research and development of its unique technology.

Ousting plastic leather

“The current market landscape for alternative leathers relies heavily on plastic-based materials,” Stephanie Downs, CEO and Co-Founder of Uncaged, said in a statement. “Our technology platform enables us to fuse biodegradable elements that each provide unique characteristics, such as texture, strength, flexibility, water resistance, color, and fragrance. We can tune our formulation to meet different performance specifications. We’re thrilled to work with InMotion Ventures and JLR to reimagine leather in the automotive industry.”

land rover interior
Could vegan leather come to Jaguar Land Rover? | Courtesy

“We’re proud to have leveraged just one percent of the funds raised by previous innovators to go from concept to full-scale production, giving us a competitive edge over our competitors,” Downs said.

“We are excited to support Uncaged Innovations and its vision for the future of biomaterials,” said Mike Smeed, Managing Director of InMotion Ventures. Uncaged’s mission is to create eco-conscious materials is in alignment with InMotion Ventures’ goal of investing in exceptional entrepreneurs and setting new benchmarks in quality, technology, and sustainability, the company says.

“We’re proud to be collaborating with Uncaged to explore responsible leather alternatives as we look forward to a sustainability-rich modern luxury vision for our future vehicles,” Rossella Cardone, Director and Head of Sustainability at JLR said of the investment. “This is in line with our strategy on the sustainability and provenance of the materials we use. We must embrace new material possibilities, new processes, and new technology and invest in sustainable material innovation.”


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