MycoWorks, making leather from fungi, closes $125M to scale production

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mycoworks. to fund.

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CEO Matt Scullin says that what his company is doing in terms of fabric is what sets it apart from its competitors, describing the company’s fine mycelium process as “a biotechnology platform that allows engineered mycelium only to be ordered-to-order.” -Order, made-to-specification calls for developing luxury materials.”

“There’s a lot going on in this space,” he said. “Mycelium is a tunable material, and many people are entering space as they see opportunity for it. However, their main approach is to take fibers and embed them in plastics, resulting in a lower quality like ‘plather’ Contains material.

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Indeed, the California-based company, founded in 2013 by Philip Ross and Sophia Wang, is one of a hot trend of companies working with fungi and other plant-based ingredients to create clothing for fashion. When we previously profiled MycoWorks for raising $45 million in 2020, we pointed to companies like Bolt Threads (mushrooms), Pineapple Anam (pineapple fiber) and Deserto (cactus leather).

In addition to using plant-based materials for fashion, other companies are finding success with fungus-based technology. Nature’s Find, which raised $350 million in a Series C round in 2021, created Fy, a vegetarian protein that can be used in solid, liquid or powdered form to make sustainable foods like meat and cheese. Atlast Food is doing just that, making meat substitutes out of gourmet mushroom mycelium. Meanwhile, MycoTechnology, which is using a fermentation process to make — among other things — a mushroom extract that blocks the undesirable flavors of other foods, in a 2020 Series D round of more than $120 million closed.

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Meanwhile, Series C was led by Prime Movers Lab, with participation from new investors, 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 $187 million in total.

MycoWorks launched its first partnership with Herms in early 2021 and has now signed contracts with a range of leading global luxury brands. Sculin told me that if this is a luxury brand you’ve heard of, the company is probably partnering with them.

Despite its early forays into the luxury space, MycoWorks aims to move towards mass production that will enable products at multiple price points. The funding will enable the company to do just that, Sculin said.

Blue Rack Tray of Fungus from MycoWorks. image credit: Lindsay Filowitz

The company’s new production plant will be built in Union, SC and comes on the heels of a successful pilot plant in Emeryville, California. This is where MycoWorks was able to validate its tray-based process and demonstrate the scalability of the Fine Mycelium process when it met the production milestone of 10,000 trays processed. Sculin expects the plant to be operational in the next 12 months and will initially be able to produce several million square feet of fine mycelium per year.

To meet consumer-driven durable goods demand, Sculin also plans to invest funding in team expansion, R&D, and technology development. The company received thousands of inbound requests from brands to be selected as the first to use fine mycelium.

He estimates that $150 billion worth of leather products are sold each year, which means the opportunity is huge, especially as the consumer tailwind remains “one of the powerful forces in the economy right now.”

When choosing Prime Movers Lab and others to invest in the round, Sculin said they all had the same expertise in biotechnology and manufacturing scale that the company needed now.

David Siminoff, General Partner, Prime Movers Lab, said in a written statement, “What MycoWorks has achieved with its Fine Mycelium platform is not just a success, it is a revolution for industries that are ready for change. ” “This opportunity is enormous and we believe that the unmatched quality of the product combined with a proprietary scalable manufacturing process has prepared MycoWorks to serve as the backbone of the new materials revolution.”

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