This startup just raised $ 60 million to make vegan bacon and leather from mushrooms
Biotechnology company Eco-friendly design recently raised $ 60 million to fund its goal of replacing animal products and polluting materials with alternatives made from mushrooms in a variety of industries. Through its biofabrication platform, the company makes a range of products using different strains of mycelium, the fast-growing root systems of fungi. Under the Atlast Food arm, Ecovative manufactures vegan mycelium-based bacon and other meat alternatives as well as scaffolding that can help give structure to cell-based meat. As part of its MycoFlex platform, the company makes biodegradable foams that can be used to make makeup sponges, spa slippers, toe spacers and sheet masks to reduce waste in the beauty industry. MycoFlex is also suitable in the fashion industry as a vegan, petroleum-free insulation for jackets, gloves and shoes. The company also developed Forager, a versatile vegan leather, and previously used its biofabrication platform to make styrofoam-free packaging for IKEA.
Ecovative founder Eben Bayer said the $ 60 million funding will be used to increase mushroom production, build on existing product lines, and create a discovery platform for developing new uses for mycelium. The company aims to become a bulk supplier of its mushroom-based alternatives to leather, meat, and other products, and has developed a manufacturing process that can produce 100,000 pounds of mycelium per year. “Our intention is not only to create really exciting new things with biology, but also to bring them [a] massive commercial scale, ”said Bayer Albany Business Review.
Ecovative is part of an emerging industry of material manufacturers who use mushrooms instead of animal skins in the manufacture of leather. While it takes months or years to raise animals for their skin, Ecovative’s Forager skins grow in just nine days.
Other companies in this space include Bolt Threads, who announced a multi-brand partnership in 2020 with designers Stella McCartney, Adidas, Lululemon and Kering to use their mushroom-based Mylo leather in future designs. Last month, McCartney became the first designer to present Mylo in two concept pieces: a bustier and a pair of pants. By the end of the year, the luxury brand Hermès will be releasing a new version of its Victoria handbag made from Sylvania, a vegan mushroom-based leather developed by the Californian startup MycoWorks.