"The material has none of the defects found in traditional hides, resulting in significantly reduced waste for manufacturers."
The international body that exists to further the interests of global, regional, and industry agendas, the World Economic Forum (WEF), has included the producer of a bio-based leather in a list of companies tipped to make a positive impact on the world. Set up by the WEF to recognise “potentially world-changing innovations”, the 2018 Technology Pioneers has this year brought together 61 start-ups and SMEs to help them develop into viable, working businesses and products.
Comprising a list of forward-thinking groups that have created everything from autonomous artificial intelligence for autonomous vehicles, to an Indian-produced machine-learning platform that supports farmers, the WEF Tech Pioneers 2018 (@techpioneers) also recognised Modern Meadow for the work it has done to produce an environmentally-friendly, animal-free leather alternative.
New Jersey-based @ModernMeadow is a US biotech company that has since 2011 developed bio-based materials; it has used the power of biology to engineer a material that contains bio-derived collagen rather than animal skin. The scientists behind it use naturally occurring yeast and manipulate its DNA to create a collagen that closely replicates animal proteins giving it the look and feel of the real thing. The other 60 groups can be viewed at the Tech Pioneers website.
Working under the strapline ‘Leather re-imagined’, Modern Meadow’s technique grows collagen and assembles it into a fibrous sheet the company has named Zoa. Zoa can then be processed, tanned and fashioned into a range of different products.
A spokesperson from the company told Bio-Based World News that Zoa is inspired by leather, but that its bio-based alternative is different because of it’s “tunable” nature. “Modern Meadow's bio-fabrication method yields a consistent bio-based material from a process that is fast, clean and versatile," said the company. "The material has none of the defects found in traditional hides, resulting in significantly reduced waste for manufacturers."
And for those consumers that wish to give the bio-fabricated material a go, it may not be too long until they get to see Zoa on the open market, potentially taking the place of animal leather. Modern Meadow told Bio-Based World News that it was working towards making Zoa commercially available, and had already secured a business partner ahead of a moving from R&D to pilot production. “We plan to continue expanding and discovering the possibilities with the Zoa biomaterials brand,” it said.
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