Turning Plants Into Leather: Our Investment in Natural Fiber Welding
Team IIGA
July 22, 2021

We’re thrilled to announce our investment in Natural Fiber Welding’s (NFW) financing round.    NFW has formulated a unique process to incorporate various plant matter into a “dough,” which can then be shaped, tuned, and processed into a 100% natural and fully recyclable alternative material to leather, textiles, and foams. This fundraise will enable the Company to scale up its production from batch processing to roll-to-roll commercial capacity. Our investment reinforces our commitment to purpose-driven entrepreneurs and underscores our efforts to advance the decarbonization of the automotive industry.

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Image: NFW’s alternative leather, Mirum, that is 100% plant-based and performs on-par with existing leathers.

Leather has remarkable characteristics (durability, resistant to abrasion, color fading, etc.) that make it an ideal material to use in a large variety of products, from footwear and apparel to accessories to car seats. However, traditional leather production is quite problematic and can be very harmful to the environment. Petrochemical-based leather alternatives often do not have the same premium look and feel and while the CO2 footprint is better, they are still oil-based and very hard to recycle.

While there is a burgeoning ecosystem of startups making alternative leather using a variety of technologies (e.g. mycelium-based, recycled leather, specific plant-based, lab-grown), they all have shortcomings in one (or more) of the following areas:

  1. Perform comparably to leather (durability, resistance to abrasion, color-fastness, etc.).
  2. Cost-competitive to existing leathers (i.e. animal or synthetic leathers).
  3. Scalable to produce meaningful volumes for a number of customer verticals, particularly automotive.
  4. Environmentally friendly with minimal carbon footprint.

NFW so far is the only company that checked all the boxes. This fundraise will support the Company’s scale up from batch processing to continuous roll-to-roll production as NFW brings its sustainable materials to the market. With this investment, we are incredibly excited to join other sustainability focused corporations, such as AllBirds and Ralph Lauren, that are backing NFW on its mission to produce all natural alternative materials.

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