Lab-grown leather startup VitroLabs raises $46 million

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2022-05-05 01:26:07 – USA

VitroLabs Inc, a Bay-Area-based biotech company that is pioneering the creation of a revolutionary scientific technique to produce the world's first cellular cultured animal leather, announced today that it has completed its Series A financing to create and expand pilot production.

The firm has raised $46 million in total. Agronomics led the Series A fundraising round, with participation from BESTSELLER's Invest FWD, global luxury business Kering, Khosla Ventures, actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio, New Agrarian, and Regeneration. VC. In addition, Kering's cooperation with VitroLabs continues to provide assistance for product quality testing, tanning, and finishing.

Ingvar Helgason, CEO of VitroLabs, co-founded the company with the goal of developing high-quality materials that match the exacting requirements of the luxury market while substantially reducing environmental impact and advancing animal welfare. 

Helgason said that at a time when environmental stewardship is more important than ever, biotech companies have the opportunity to lead the way in changing how they produce materials and build supply chains, working hand in hand with existing artisans and craftspeople who are the cornerstone of the $400 billion leather goods industry. By launching the first production of cultivated leather, they will have achieved a significant milestone in achieving their aim to lead the transition to a more sustainable future.

Marie-Claire Daveu, Chief Sustainability and Institutional Affairs Officer at Kering, said that at Kering, a chapter/pillar of their sustainability roadmap is dedicated to sustainable innovation, and actively seeking alternative materials that can lessen our long-term environmental effect is one of the answers they have been researching for years. They think that innovation is critical to tackling the luxury industry's sustainability concerns, which is why they are excited about the possibilities of biomaterials such as cultivated leather.

Helgason continues that there has been a surge in the number of firms researching leather substitutes. Their cultivated animal leather, on the other hand, preserves the biological characteristics that the industry, craftsmen, and consumers know and love about leather while eliminating the most environmentally and ethically damaging aspects of the traditional leather manufacturing process associated with its sourcing.

VitroLabs, based in Milpitas, California, is the first start-up poised to bring cultured leather to market. Since 2016, the firm has been at the forefront of developing cutting-edge materials by utilizing innovative tissue engineering procedures to manufacture cell cultured animal leather from only a few animal cells. With the improvement of cell growth methods and the exclusive creation of a revolutionary, large-scale tissue cultivator, the business has achieved tremendous advances in product quality. VitroLabs moved into its new 45,000-square-foot building last autumn, which is geared for pilot production and laboratory space as the firm progresses from the bench to commercialization. The Series A money will be utilized to accelerate commercialization by expanding the scientific, manufacturing, and business development teams.

Jim Mellon of Agronomics, said that VitroLabs' scalable tissue engineering platform delivers sustainable, high-quality leather. They’re delighted to be extending their support to VitroLabs, the top premium cultured leather firm ready for commercialization."

Dr. Dusko Ilic, co-founder and stem cell biologist, said that they have been laser-focused on pushing their tissue engineering platform over the last two years in order to boost efficiency and optimize tissue manufacturing in order to achieve the appearance, and feel, and performance of conventional leather at scale. They are now on their way to a scalable process that achieves the needed premium attributes, creating a route towards the ultimate aim of industrialization, thanks to many key achievements in the fields of bioreactor design, bioprocess, and facility design, and cell culture development.

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