The rapidly growing global vegan leather market, valued at $39.5 billion in 2022, is anticipated to skyrocket to a staggering $74.5 billion by 2030. As companies scramble to capitalize on this flourishing sector, numerous players are emerging with sustainable solutions to meet the rising demand.
New York-based biomaterials startup Uncaged Innovations recently secured $2 million in funding for its plant-based leather offering. Meanwhile, California-headquartered VitroLabs successfully raised a whopping $46 million for its cell-cultivated leather.
Adding to this wave of investment, Arda Biomaterials, headquartered in the United Kingdom, has just received a significant boost with £1.1 million in new funding. The investment was led by the Clean Growth Fund, a renowned UK clean-tech venture capital fund. Notable participants in the funding round include Plug and Play, Serpentine Ventures, Satgana, and a group of angel investors from the alternative protein, fashion, and climate tech sectors.
Arda Biomaterials is poised to capitalise on this injection of funds by expediting the development of a finished material that can be readily sold to consumer brands. The company anticipates achieving this milestone within the next 12 months, signalling an exciting shift towards sustainable alternatives in the leather industry.
Edward TJ Mitchell, CTO of Arda said: “The advent of cheap plastics wiped out a century of innovation in using natural inputs to make materials. Now, with sustainability in mind, we are discovering that the natural world has all the building blocks needed to create marvellous and sustainable materials. The production of leather is particularly resource intensive and the current alternatives are riddled with plastic. The chemical composition in waste grain is uniquely suited to be transformed into a material that can resemble many of the properties of leather and more.”
Brett Cotten, CEO of Arda: “I am thrilled that we can skip the cow to create a truly novel product that to date has been 100% animal and plastic-free. Now we can drink our beer and wear it too. This financing round led by Clean Growth Fund will allow us to get to a finished material that we can begin selling to brands and put into consumers’ hands. I can’t wait to see others wearing it.”
Susannah McClintock, Investment Director of Clean Growth Fund said: “We are delighted to invest in Arda Biomaterials and support the commercial development of their work: it’s a truly innovative solution to a significant environmental challenge. Arda’s technology has the potential to disrupt traditional leather production and significantly reduce the environmental impact of highly polluting sectors. We look forward to working with Brett, Edward, and the team to help bring this exciting technology to market.”
From beer waste to vegan leather
In 2022, Arda Biomaterials was founded by Edward TJ Mitchell, a chemistry PhD holder, and Brett Cotten, an experienced professional in the alternative protein sector, who crossed paths through Entrepreneur First, a global talent investor. Situated in ‘The Leather Market’ building near London Bridge, the company operates in close proximity to the historic ‘Bermondsey Beer Mile’ in South London, once renowned as the leather tanning district of the City of London.
Leveraging their expertise in chemistry and materials science, Arda Biomaterials embarks on a groundbreaking journey to revolutionise various industries with their first innovation. They are transforming waste barley grain, sourced from the beer brewing industry, into a sustainable leather alternative. This breakthrough material, known as New Grain, has been meticulously developed without any involvement of plastic components. Biodegradability tests are currently underway, showcasing Arda’s commitment to eco-conscious practices. New Grain aligns with the mission to achieve Net Zero emissions and exemplifies Arda’s dedication to advancing the principles of the Circular Economy by utilising waste materials like brewery byproducts.
Arda Biomaterials gained recognition earlier this year when it was shortlisted for the prestigious H&M Global Change Award. This esteemed accolade honours planet-positive concepts that have the potential to reshape the fashion industry and redefine the way clothing is produced, worn, and perceived. As an innovative company, Arda Biomaterials is currently showcasing some of its early prototypes at Fabrica X, a hub within the techstyle and agrifood community of The Mills Fabrica, located near London’s bustling King’s Cross area.
Arda Biomaterials’ pioneering efforts to transform beer waste into a sustainable leather alternative demonstrate their commitment to environmental stewardship and their mission to redefine the fashion and other industries with innovative and planet-friendly materials.