$475M Invested in Next-Gen Materials in 2022, Leather Alternatives Dominating Sector

The Material Innovation Initiative has published its third State of the Industry Report for the next-gen materials sector.

The report notes that $3 billion has been invested into next-gen materials since 2013, with $457 million raised in 2022 alone. This figure was lower than the “unprecedented” spike to $1.135 billion in 2021, with the fall blamed on a challenging funding environment caused by the global economic downturn. However, more funding was raised in 2022 than in any year prior to 2021.

Leather alternatives still dominate the sector, with 64 companies working in this area compared to 15 for silk, ten for wool, and nine for fur. Seven companies are working on alternatives to down, and one on exotic skins.

Currently, 52% of the materials used in the industry are plant-derived, while 19.6% come from microbes. The remaining materials are made from mycelium, recycled material, blends, or cultivated animal cells.

Next-Gen materials industry

High-profile partnerships

“With greater awareness of the textile industry’s harmful environmental impact, there’s clearly never been greater global interest – and surging demand – for improved material choices,” Allen Zelden, president of sustainable materials platform FUTUREVVORLD, told vegconomist.

He added, “Of all the developments in 2022, what was most impressive was the emphasis on industry collaboration. Beyond the efforts of fashion giants and non-profits, even leading material innovators themselves such as Natural Fiber Welding were seen to be breaking down silos and catapulting the fashion industry forward in spearheading collaborations with the likes of Stella McCartney, Allbirds, PANGAIA, and Reformation.

“Collaborations are fertile ground to amplify the mission behind many of these material innovators, so it’s great to see such high-profile partnerships push a more urgent narrative of our duty to lessen our impact on the planet.”

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