UNCAGED Innovations, a US biomaterials startup focused on leather alternatives, announced it has raised $2M in pre-seed funding from investors, including InMotion Ventures, the investment arm of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR). The funding will be used to launch the company’s “next generation high-performance” vegan leather.
“We’re proud to have leveraged just one percent of the funds raised by previous innovators to go from concept to full-scale production”
Founded in 2020, UNCAGED Innovations is working to offer a sustainable alternative to leather for the consumer goods and automotive industry. Using patent-pending technology, the startup is creating a platform of biomimetic, plastic-free substitutes to replace animal hides that don’t require tanning chemicals. Compared to traditional leather, UNCAGED says its materials can be produced within hours, while animal-based leather can take up to several years.
To support the development of its technology, UNCAGED Innovations has also received a coveted grant from the National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR).
“The current market landscape for alternative leathers relies heavily on plastic-based materials,” said Stephanie Downs, CEO and co-founder of UNCAGED. ”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. 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.”
Embracing new materials
According to InMotion Ventures, UNCAGED Innovation’s mission to create eco-conscious materials aligns with JLR’s goal of investing in sustainable luxury. “We are excited to support UNCAGED Innovations and its vision for the future of biomaterials,” said Mike Smeed, managing director of InMotion Ventures. “The company’s commitment to material innovation supports our focus on investing in purpose-driven companies driving positive change across the industry.”
Other participants in the pre-seed round included VegInvest, Stray Dog Capital, Alwyn Capital, Hack Capital, and GlassWalls Syndicate.
“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,” shared Rossella Cardone, Director and Head of Sustainability at JLR. “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.”