Plant-based leather alternative wins Manufacturing Futures Innovation prize
Biophilica, a UK-based start-up, has created a plant-based compostable leather alternative called Treekind which recently won the Manufacturing Futures Prize.
The firm will receive a cash prize of £15,000 and a one-year lab membership for rapid prototyping and experimentation provided by the Mills Fabrica.
Designed for the fashion industry, Treekind is recyclable as green waste, home compostable, plastic-free, and estimated carbon neutral.
The awards also recognised UK-based Modern Synthesis and Nanoloom as highly commended in the awards, which saw 10 shortlisted companies pitch their innovations to judges followed by an industry and investor supper in London.
Modern Synthesis is a biomaterial start-up connecting biology, material science and design to make biomaterials for the fashion industry, utilising microbes to grow a cellulose-based material that is naturally biodegradable.
Nanoloom creates biodegradable fibre from a novel nanomaterial called BioHastalex, which is based on graphene and doesn’t shed.
As part of the prize, IBM will provide bespoke business support that utilises design thinking to produce an action plan, and Common Objective will offer a 12-month business membership with global connections, premium intelligence and training courses in sustainable fashion and manufacturing.
This year, the IET partnered with the Fashion District and the Fashion Innovation Agency from the London College of Fashion, UAL, to launch a special prize – Manufacturing Futures 2021 – supporting technological innovations which are solving the manufacturing challenges facing the fashion industry today.
It called upon fashion and tech companies to introduce new tech solutions for the industry’s challenges and drive future growth in the fashion industry. It focused on start-ups that are developing propositions for new materials, manufacturing processes, waste management, supply chain and logistics, transparency and traceability, end-of-use and the circular economy.
Since May, the finalists have received business and investment advice from industry and manufacturing experts before pitching to the panel of judges from Pangaia, H&M Co Labs, Make UK, IBM, FIA and IET.
IET President, Danielle George, said: “Engineering plays an important role in the world of fashion and Manufacturing Futures gave us the opportunity to shine a spotlight on start-ups that are applying technology and science to tackle the urgent environmental needs of the fashion industry.
“We brought engineers and the fashion industry together to solve some of its biggest challenges, and these innovations certainly show the potential to change the future of fashion manufacturing and completely transform the industry.”
Fashion District Director, Helen Lax said: “Manufacturing Futures 2021 has brought forward truly cutting edge start-ups with some ground-breaking technologies. We have a real opportunity to collaborate, both within the industry and with other sectors, to bring on the brightest and most impactful innovations to reshape the industry.”
Those shortlisted included:
- Treekind by Biophilica: a plant-based leather alternative for the fashion industry that is recyclable as green waste, home compostable, plastic-free, and estimated carbon neutral.
- Clean Ocean Technology: a textile business that creates new yarn by binding any recycled raw material with natural and bioartificial spun yarn.
- ClearChain: a software platform for easy, low-cost, high-value supply chain mapping, compliance auditing and reporting.
- 2DTronics: a textile technology start-up dedicated to producing smart sustainable clothing for the home, for work and exercise.
- Modern Synthesis: a biomaterial start-up connecting biology, material science and design to make biomaterials for the fashion industry, utilising microbes to grow a cellulose-based material that is naturally biodegradable.
- Nanofique Limited: working with bio-composites of nanostructured material to degrade the dyes in wastewater, removing the colour and associated harmful effects.
- Nanoloom: creates biodegradable fibre from a novel nanomaterial called BioHastalex, which is based on graphene and doesn’t shed.
- Pattern Project: a clothing micro-factory, developing machinery and software to enable independent fashion brands, high street retailers or tailoring companies to produce custom-fit clothing in-store and on-demand.
- Petit Pli: a wearable technology company engineering clothes that grow.
- Terra Neutra provides innovative services that measure the carbon footprint of a product and allow customers to offset the impact in the shopping cart.
Craig Smith, Research & Development Director, PANGAIA said: “It is a privilege to have judged Manufacturing Futures 2021 and be part of an initiative that puts science and engineering at its heart. At PANGAIA, we are on a mission to inspire and accelerate an Earth Positive future, and it is amazing to be part of a competition where all the innovators are striving towards the same shared goal.”
Nine of the shortlisted companies are UK-based, while Clean Ocean Technology is based in Brazil.
Images courtesy of Charlie Williams.