A startup has developed a process that can produce many leather bags from a handful of cow cells
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Spotted: As the world becomes increasingly aware of the ethical and environmental issues associated with traditional leather production, companies and retailers are on a mission to find high-quality leather alternatives. Lab-grown meat has received a lot of attention, with several companies’ products expected to hit the shelves in 2022 and 2023. Now, another startup is in position to scale up the production of lab-grown leather.
Vitrolabs is developing a process that can efficiently produce leather from only a few cells in an environmentally friendly way. This process involves taking a biopsy—a one-time collection of cells—from a live animal. These cells are then grown in a nutrient-rich environment – dividing and forming into tissue that can then be turned into leather. The composition of the material produced through this process achieves the complexity of traditional hides. This addresses a problem often levelled at other leather alternatives – that consumers crave the luxurious quality of real leather.
Last autumn, the company expanded into a new facility to pilot production, and as the company makes its way to commercialisation, it has received $46 million (around €43 million) in a new round of funding.
“There has been an explosion of companies that are developing alternative materials to leather,” explains VitroLabs CEO Ingvar Helgason. “At VitroLabs, our cultivated animal leather preserves the biological characteristics that the industry, craftsmen, and consumers know and love about leather, while eliminating the most environmentally and ethically detrimental aspects of the conventional leather manufacturing process associated with its sourcing.”
Many innovators are developing leather alternatives made using materials such as apples, hemp, and grape waste. However, VitroLabs is the first innovator spotted by Springwsie that is taking a lab-grown approach to sustainable leather.
Written By: Katrina Lane