Mon. Jan 17th, 2022

MycoWorks, a company making a fungus-based biomaterial that can replace leather, brought in a new round of funding — $125 million in Series C funding — to fund a manufacturing plant to scale up production of its flagship product Reishi.

CEO Matt Scullin says what his company does when it comes to fabrics differs from its competitors, citing the company’s Fine Mycelium process as “a biotechnology platform that develops mycelium to produce the only custom-made luxury material made to order.” to cultivate.”

“There’s a lot going on in this space,” he added. “Mycelium is a tunable material and many people enter the space because they see opportunity for it. However, their main approach is to take fibers and embed them in plastic, resulting in a low quality material like ‘pleather’.

The California-based company, founded in 2013 by Philip Ross and Sophia Wang, is indeed one of the popular companies working with fungi and other plant materials to create fabrics for fashion. When we profiled MycoWorks for the $45 million raise earlier in 2020, we pointed out that companies like Bolt Threads (mushrooms), Ananas Anam (pineapple fiber), and Desserto (cactus leather) are doing similar things.

In addition to using plant-based materials for fashion, other companies are having success with mold-based technology. Nature’s Fynd, which raised $350 million in a Series C round in 2021, created Fy, a vegan protein that can be used as a solid, liquid or powder to make sustainable foods, such as meat and cheese. Atlast Food is doing something similar and making meat alternatives from gourmet mushroom mycelium. Meanwhile, MycoTechnology, which uses a fermentation process to make, among other things, a mushroom extract that blocks the unwanted flavors of other foods, closed a Series D round of more than $120 million in 2020.

Meanwhile, Series C was led by Prime Movers Lab, with the participation of new investors, most notably SK Capital Partners, Mirabaud Lifestyle Impact and Innovation Fund, who joined a group of other new and existing investors. To date, the company has raised a total of $187 million.

MycoWorks launched its first partnership with Hermès in early 2021 and now has contracts with a range of major global luxury brands. Scullin told me that if it’s a luxury brand you’ve heard of, the company probably works with them.

Despite its initial operation in the luxury space, MycoWorks is also pursuing mass production that would allow for products in a variety of price ranges. The funding will enable the company to do this, Scullin said.

MycoWorks

Blue rack trays from MycoWorks’ moulds. Image Credits: Lindsey Filowitz

The company’s new manufacturing facility will be built in Union, SC, following a successful pilot plant in Emeryville, California. That’s where MycoWorks was able to validate its tray-based process and demonstrate the scalability of the Fine Mycelium process as it reached a production milestone of 10,000 trays processed. Scullin expects the plant to be operational in the next 12 months and initially capable of producing volumes of several million square meters of Fine Mycelium per year.

To meet consumer demand for durable goods, Scullin also plans to invest the funding in team expansion, R&D and technology development. The company received thousands of incoming requests from brands to be the first to use Fine Mycelium.

He estimates that $150 billion worth of leather products are sold each year, meaning the odds are high, especially as consumer tailwinds remain “one of the powerful forces in the economy right now,” he added.

In choosing Prime Movers Lab and others to invest in the round, Scullin said they all had a common expertise in biotechnology and manufacturing scaling that the company now needed.

“What MycoWorks has achieved with its Fine Mycelium platform is not just a breakthrough, it is a revolution for industries ripe for change,” said David Siminoff, general partner at Prime Movers Lab, in a written statement. “This opportunity is huge and we believe that MycoWorks forms the backbone of the new materials revolution through unparalleled product quality combined with its own scalable manufacturing process.”

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