Earth Day – shining a light on Arda Biomaterials

April 22nd, Earth Day, is a global initiative to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide. In particular, it is committed to ending plastics “for the sake of human and planetary health”, demanding a 60% reduction in the production of all plastics by 2040.

As a Venture Capital fund investing in the UK’s most promising early stage companies that have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or improve resource efficiency, Clean Growth Fund upholds this mission.

An example of how Clean Growth Fund supports companies that can aid the removal of dangerous toxins from our atmosphere and minimize the impact of damaging plastics is our investment into novel materials company, Arda Biomaterials.

Clean Growth Fund invested £1.1m in Arda Biomaterials in 2023, a young company on a mission to transform waste into a leather-alternative material that is entirely animal and plastic-free.

Humanity relies heavily on plastic and animal agriculture for its materials.  By leveraging chemistry and materials science, Arda Biomaterials can transform waste barley grain from the beer brewing industry into a leather alternative, suitable for applications in fashion, home goods, automotive, and various other industries. The final material can have customised finishes, patterns, and colours, rendering it remarkably versatile. Arda’s novel material named New Grain™ saves 97% CO2eq compared to cow leather and unlike most existing leather alternatives it requires no plastic input, further advancing the development of the circular economy.

Founded by Dr. Edward (TJ) Mitchel, who holds a PhD in super-molecular chemistry, and Brett Cotten, who has worked across the widely alternative protein sector including authoring a book in on alternative proteins in the food and materials systems, Arda Biomaterials is already collaborating with several prominent brewers and distilleries. These partners benefit from the chance to decarbonise their manufacturing processes, as well as gaining a distinctive storytelling opportunity to communicate to their increasingly planet-conscious consumer base.

With big brands like Apple pledging to cut out leather and the automotive industry looking to steer away from materials containing plastic, Arda Biomaterials’ innovative New Grain™ looks set to revolutionise the production of consumer materials worldwide – and their leather and plastic-free alternative is getting noticed…

  • Forbes recognised the company’s two founders in its 2024 ‘30 under 30’ list as part of its Manufacturing & Industry segment, highlighting the products, methods and materials of tomorrow.
  • H&M listed Arda Biomaterials in its 2023 Global Change Award shortlist, an initiative launched to find, support and scale disruptive ideas that can transform the textile industry into a planet positive one.
  • Last year, the company opened a lab and office in London’s Leather Market, and have grown to a full time team of 7.  Their new lab very recently enjoyed a visit from the BBC for the filming of Click,  a programme that exploring up-and-coming technologies.

Future plans for this ambitious company include scaling up its London lab and opening manufacturing facilities in anticipation of bringing New Grain™ to market.