Bolt Threads' mushroom-based leather alternative. Image credit: Bolt Threads

Data snapshot: Demand for sustainable fashion & packaging drives investment in biomaterials startups

August 17, 2022

Data Snapshot is a regular AFN feature analyzing agrifoodtech market investment data provided by our parent company, AgFunder.

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Bioenergy & Biomaterials startups raised $2.1 billion in 2021, accounting for 4% of all agrifoodtech funding according to AgFunder’s 2022 AgriFoodTech Investment Report.

Biomaterials, in particular, saw quite a bit of fundraising, which is hardly surprising given the increased demand for alternatives to animal- and petroleum-based materials and fabrics.

Top Bioenergy & Biomaterials deals in 2021:

Biomaterials and bioenergy companies tracked by AgFunder are rooted in the agrifood sector.

Bolt Threads, whose Series E was the largest funding round in the category last year, is a US-based materials science company that’s best known for its plant-based leather. Of all the biomaterials companies out there, Bolt is probably the most well-known thanks to high-profile partnerships with Stella McCartney, Adidas, and Lululemon, all of whom are using the startup’s plant-based leather for their brands.

Japan’s Spiber, which raised two rounds last year, makes sustainable fabrics and materials from sugars and proteins. ‘Its Brewed Protein’ products include apparel from PANGAIA and The North Face, among others. Spiber raised a total of $312 million across a $221 million round and a $91 million round.

Another notable fashion-related deal came from alt-leather-maker Modern Meadow for its $130 million Series C funding round.

Outside of fashion and fabric applications, RWDC Industries raised $95 million for its Solon material meant to replace petroleum-derived single-use plastics for drinking straws, cups, and other food-related packaging. 

Next up for biomaterials:

Bioenergy & Biomaterials is still a fairly small category, having nabbed just 4% of the $51.7 billion raised by agrifoodtech startups last year. Continued demand for more sustainable materials in sectors like fashion and packaging suggests investment in the category should be a bit larger this time next year. Some deals from the first half of 2022 underscore that point:

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