Apr 18, 2022
by James Roberts
Investment in Next-Gen Materials More Than Doubled in 2021
by James Roberts
Apr 18, 2022

We at FUTUREVVORLD are confident in the future of design, fashion and materials. Through our reporting, we continue to be amazed at the innovative and beautiful products that brands are producing, all in the pursuit of looking after our world.

However, it is always reassuring to know that the growth of the next-gen materials industry is most definitely accelerating. The latest report from the Material Innovation Initiative (MII) — 2021 State Of The Industry Report: Next-Gen Materials — concludes that the investment raised 2021 ($980 million USD) is more than double the amount raised in 2020.

MII is a nonprofit organization that ​​accelerates the development of high performance, animal-free, and more sustainable materials by connecting brands, startups and big players in the next-gen world.

Next-gen materials are more sustainable materials that are both animal-free and kinder to our planet. They offer direct alternatives for animal derived products like leather, silk, wool, down, fur and exotic skins. These materials are usually plant-based or made with recycled fibers, but can also include mycelium and microbe-derived structures.

The MII report identifies 95 next-gen materials companies, an increase of 21 since last year and 55 since 2014. And 38 out 40 leading fashion brands are actively seeking next-gen materials.

The increase in investment in next-gen materials is big. Despite the pandemic, dollars invested in 2021 alone was nearly the same as the previous 4 years combined. Though the number of actual deals has not changed much, the larger investments are proof of companies expanding, maturing and showing proof of concept.

One company showing great signs of growth is Spinnova, the Finnish textile innovator that has created a next-gen wool made with FSC-certified wood and waste. In June 2021, it went public. The company raised approximately $135 million USD in the initial public offering of its shares on Nasdaq First North Growth Market Finland.

Spinnova and adidas have been working closely recently, as demonstrated in the release of the adidas TERREX HS1 hoodie. It’s notable that adidas Ventures B.V. was one of the cornerstone investors in the IPO.

In other investments, Bolt Threads raised a $253 million USD Series E at a $1.15 billion USD valuation, Ecovative raised a $60 million USD Series D, and Natural Fiber Welding received backing from BMWi Ventures and Allbirds, raising $15 million USD.

With this impressive growth, the MII estimates that the global wholesale market size for next-gen materials will be approximately $2.2 billion USD in 2026.

Following in the footsteps of Spinnova and adidas, collaboration will prove to be the strongest path forward, states the MII. With more investment, partnerships and innovative scientists, this trend will continue and the materials industry will make the shift into next-gen. Our planet depends on it.

As the report adamantly concludes: “Let’s make the sustainable option the default option.”

To read the report in full, head over to