Bucha Bio, a US-based biomaterials company, has raised $550,000 USD in funding to ramp up the production of its product Mirai. Bucha Bio plans to open up a production facility in New York City around the winter season.
In 2019, Bucha Bio completed SOSV’s IndieBio accelerator, a global venture capital program that provides funding for biotech startups, and has seemed to replicate such success in its recent funding. Investors include New Climate Ventures, Beni Venture Capital, Lifely VC, QKZ Design, and MicroVentures, as well as individual investors Cary Pinkowski, Nicole Valeriano, and Fiona and George Sobek.
Mirai, derived from the Japanese word of future and Italian phrase of “look with emphasis,” is a biodegradable textile that replicates traditional cowhide and can be converted into different textures and colors. Bucha Bio forms its environmentally sourced and friendly materials by fermenting bacterial nanocellulose, a natural biopolymer. By then fusing it to natural fibers, the process produces a “high-performance textile and composite” that can be used as an alternative to animal and petrochemical-based components, like leather, epoxy, and latex.
Another added benefit is the turnaround time: CEO Zimri Hinshaw reported to AGFunder News that “growing sheets of material using this process takes mere weeks, rather than months or years as it would with animal-based materials or those made from petroleum.” Bucha’s angle into the biotech market is to cooperate with other companies to help develop products, rather than make its own. The company stated that they have already started partnering with brands, mostly in fashion, to incorporate Mirai. However, Hinshaw wanted to differentiate his company as not just an alternative leather brand. Rather, it is “in a[n] [entirely] new category of materials.”
According to the Material Innovation Initiative, 94% US consumers are interested in purchasing environmentally-friendly/sustainable materials, and 38 out of 40 fashion brands are actively looking for them to replace their traditional materials. Fashion comprises only a small sector of the global economy, but it accounts for nearly 10% of the global emissions. Bucha Bio’s developments with Mirai is hopeful news for the future of materials.
In related news, Ananas Anam, creators of pineapple leather alternative PIÑATEX, also secured a new round of funding.