Growing adoption of next-generation materials

Next-generation materials encompass sustainable alternatives to animal-derived materials, with the Materials Innovation Institute (MII) claiming that the industrial farming of animals for products such as leather, fur, silk, wool, down and exotic skins is one of the main causes of many pressing problems. of our time, including climate change, environmental degradation, public health risks and animal cruelty.

A new report from the MII indicates that of the 95 companies innovating in next-generation materials, 55 have been created since 2014. Most (41) of these 55 new companies are working on the biomimicry of leather. In the same period, five companies were created working on the biomimicry of silk, five on wool, four on fur, three on down and one on leather and exotic skins.

The IRM said the amount of investment in 2021 in next-generation materials more than doubled compared to 2020. Moreover, the dollars invested in 2021 alone were almost the same as the previous four years combined, even in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Although the number of transactions did not increase significantly from 2020 to 2021, the IRM claims that the dollars invested more than doubled, demonstrating greater
deal size is to be expected as companies mature, show proof of concept and scale.

Last February, sustainable footwear and apparel company Allbirds invested $2 million in start-up Natural Fiber Welding (NFW) and its Mirum technology as part of its bid to bring a sustainable alternative to leather to the fashion industry.

MII also noted that the number of fashion brands looking to adopt next-generation materials is on the rise.

“MII has met with 40 major fashion brands, and all but two are actively researching next-generation materials to integrate into their supply chains. With so many new, next-generation material options hitting the market, brands and consumers will soon have more to choose from than leather, wool, silk, down, fur and exotic animal skins.” , says Nicole Rawling, CEO of MII in the report. ,

Elaine Siu, Chief Innovation Officer, adds, “Many brands in the industry have specific, publicly disclosed goals and are committed to achieving measurable improvements in sustainability. Given the significant impact of raw materials on a brand’s environmental footprint, it is expected that these goals will be largely achieved through a transition from incumbent (and current generation) materials to alternatives. new generation. These sustainability pledges, both in terms of volume and timing, therefore provide a good benchmark for materials innovators and investors to gauge the potential market size and growth rate of the next-generation materials industry. .

However, one of the obstacles to the adoption of next-generation materials is their widespread availability, notes MII board member Jacqueline Kravette.

“Today’s materials industry is not yet producing large-scale sustainable options that meet brands’ demands for performance, aesthetics and price. When we help brands source next-gen materials, we come across very few existing options that meet a brand’s specifications and meet their sustainability goals. We keep repeating that perfection cannot be the enemy of good. In other words, while we’re not quite there yet for 100% cradle-to-cradle sustainability, the shift to next-generation raw materials will have significant positive environmental impacts. »

The report adds that the acceleration of the next-generation materials industry is fueled by advances in science and technology, consumer preferences and regulatory trends.

“Exciting white space opportunities are waiting to be tapped, those who adapt quickly have the potential to reap huge financial rewards by claiming the materials industry of the future,” note the report authors.

Click on here to access the full report.

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