The UK’s Arda Biomaterials, a producer of plastic-free upcycled leather alternatives, has raised £1.1 million in a funding round led by Clean Growth Fund. Other participants included Plug and Play, Serpentine Ventures, Satgana, and various angel investors.
Arda uses waste barley from the beer brewing industry to produce a material called New Grain, which has the potential to be used in the fashion, home goods, and automotive industries. The company is based in The Leather Market building near London Bridge, and is working with breweries in South London’s ‘Bermondsey Beer Mile’ — once a leather tanning district.
“We can skip the cow to create a truly novel product”
Arda was founded last year by Edward TJ Mitchell, who holds a PhD in chemistry, and Brett Cotten, who has extensive experience in the alt protein sector. In March of this year, the company was shortlisted for the H&M Global Change Award, which recognises planet-positive ideas that could transform fashion.
New Grain is fully plastic-free and is currently undergoing biodegradability tests. Arda hopes to finish developing the material within twelve months.
Upcycling brewery waste
Arda is not the only company making use of brewery waste; both Revyve and Yeasty are upcycling brewer’s yeast to produce alternative proteins. In Berlin, Mushlabs has partnered with a brewery group to turn its byproducts into edible fermented mycelium.
“Many people believe leather is a by-product of cows; it’s really more of a co-product that subsidises the continuation of animal agriculture,” said Brett Cotten, CEO of Arda. “The spent grain from breweries is typically burned, sent to landfill, anaerobically digested into gas, or fed to animals as cheap feed — all very low-value use cases. 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.”