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Sapro-Tech Raises $1 Million To Produce The World's Most Sustainable Leather From Fungi

Worth around $400 billion, the leather goods industry is thriving globally; but is also a contributor to global emissions. With a vision to move the needle on more sustainable materials, Sapro-Tech has raised a $1 million pre-seed round to take its world-first production process for creating a leather equivalent from fungi to the global textile market. Using the power of fungi, their textiles are made from mycelium fibres that require low amounts of energy and produce a textile that is comparable to traditional leather, minus the toxic environmental footprint.

“As consumer demand for more environmentally friendly products increases, we believe Sapro-Tech is well-positioned to become a global industry leader in this space. Not only do their materials have a very natural feel and appearance - which is key when seeking to replace something - but, importantly, they’ve found a cost-effective production method that is unique, setting them apart from their competitors,” comments Warren Bebb, Investment Manager for Sprout.

A pioneering production method

“Our competition grow mycelia in the form of a ‘foam’ which they then compress to produce a textile. Sapro-Tech has pioneered a way of producing layers of mycelia that can be grown together in sheets. This method is more controllable and sophisticated, therefore allowing us to create a variety of textiles that are more consistent, more scalable, and more similar to animal-based leather than existing products”, says Sapro-Tech Founder Dr Keith Hudson.

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Prototype showing natural edge

Leaving a legacy by changing an industry

Keith is an avid conservationist and is passionate about acting upon climate change and biodiversity loss. “We owe it to future generations to pioneer a sustainable, long–term economy. It’s time to put money into research and alternative industries that can help us reshape the future and we’re proud that Sprout have recognised our passion for change,” believes Keith.

As a Founder, Keith has a long history of innovation - having led research and development projects for large-scale operations locally. The startup is also well-connected into international collaborations and dealflow and has received close advice from global pioneers in this space.

Global ambition

“Climate change is one of the biggest challenges our generation will face. Using organisms like fungi, together with other disruptive technologies will be game-changing for entire industries. We’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of the problems these organisms have the potential to solve and it’s exciting to be part of a team pioneering new approaches,” comments Dr Erin Stroud, Sapro-Tech’s lead scientist.

The investment will be used to productionise SaproTech’s research and development in this space, including building out both innovation and business development teams.

Official launch of product prototypes and licensing will follow, initially to brands involved in handbag production - a lucrative niche that appreciates the value of sustainability and where price is weighted in favour of ‘novelty’.

Sapro-Tech is the sixth investment of over thirty NZ$1 million agritech and foodtech investments Sprout will make over the next five years, having joined forces with investment partners US-based Finistere Ventures, Kiwi dairy giant Fonterra and Israeli venture builder OurCrowd, as well as Callaghan Innovation’s Tech Incubator programme designed to support the commercialisation of early-stage deep tech ventures in New Zealand.

This investment was made off the back of Sprout’s 12-week accelerator designed to support startups who are solving some of the agricultural and food value chain's toughest problems. Registrations for the next 2023 cohort is now open. Previous alumni include Cropsy; ProTag - a Fitbit for cows; Menuaid who are solving the 'What's for dinner?’ dilemma; and Nootropics company Arepa.


About Sapro-Tech

Sapro-Tech combines science and design to disrupt the conventional textile industry. With their exclusive technology and by leveraging the inherent properties of fungi, Sapro-Tech is producing innovative, long-lasting, and visually appealing textiles. These sustainable alternatives are aimed at revolutionising the fashion industry and extending their application to various other sectors.

Also see: https://www.sapro-tech.com/

About Sprout

Sprout Agritech LP is a company based in Palmerston North who are on a mission to help entrepreneurs build agritech and foodtech businesses into investable, global companies. Through their accelerator, Sprout has helped grow over 80 early-stage companies which have raised over$50m+. Sprout has joined forces with investment partners, US-based Finistere Ventures, Kiwi dairy giant Fonterra, and Israeli venture builder OurCrowd, as well as government agency Callaghan Innovation to provide over thirty NZ$1 million investments over the next six years.

Also see: https://www.sproutagritech.com/

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