UNCAGED Innovations, a biomaterials startup focused on sustainable leather alternatives, has raised a $2 million pre-seed round from investors, including InMotion Ventures, JLR’s investment arm. Other mission-driven funds and syndicates striving to replace the use of animals in supply chains participated in the round, including VegInvest, Stray Dog Capital, Alwyn Capital, Hack Capital, and GlassWalls Syndicate. The funding will be used to launch the company’s next-generation high-performance vegan leather, a sustainable alternative to traditional animal products that do not compromise on luxury feel or durability.
UNCAGED Innovations, a biomaterials startup founded in 2020, is redefining the use of leather in consumer and automotive goods. The company is working towards improving an industry by creating a platform of biomimetic substitutes for animal hides. Notably, UNCAGED Innovations has been awarded the highly-coveted National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to support the research and development of its unique technology.
“The current market landscape for alternative leathers relies heavily on plastic-based materials. Our technology platform enables us to fuse biodegradable elements that each provide unique characteristics, such as texture, strength, flexibility, water resistance, color, and fragrance. We can tune our formulation to meet different performance specifications. We’re thrilled to work with InMotion Ventures and JLR to reimagine leather in the automotive industry,” said Stephanie Downs, CEO and Co-Founder of UNCAGED. “We’re proud to have leveraged just one percent of the funds raised by previous innovators to go from concept to full-scale production, giving us a competitive edge over our competitors.”
The mission of UNCAGED Innovations to create eco-conscious materials aligns with InMotion Ventures’ goal of investing in exceptional entrepreneurs and setting new benchmarks in quality, technology, and sustainability. “We are excited to support UNCAGED Innovations and its vision for the future of biomaterials,” said Mike Smeed, Managing Director of InMotion Ventures. “The company’s commitment to material innovation supports our focus on investing in purpose-driven companies driving positive change across the industry.”
As a collaborator of UNCAGED Innovations, JLR sees sustainable leather alternatives as integral to its modern luxury vision. Rossella Cardone, Director and Head of Sustainability at JLR commented on the investment.
“We’re proud to be collaborating with Uncaged to explore responsible leather alternatives as we look forward to a sustainability-rich modern luxury vision for our future vehicles. This is in-line with our strategy on the sustainability and provenance of the materials we use. We must embrace new material possibilities, new processes, and new technology and invest in sustainable material innovation.”
UNCAGED Innovations is a biomaterials start-up developing a platform of biomimetic substitutes for animal hides, which seeks to redefine the use of leather in consumer goods while mitigating an industry based on environmentally harmful practices.
The current market landscape for eco-conscious leathers relies heavily on plastic-based materials. However, with growing concerns over end-of-life plastic waste, consumers seek eco-friendly alternatives that align with their values and aesthetics. UNCAGED Innovations has developed a formulation library for producing biomimetic leather alternatives based on composite plant-based proteins and polypeptides.
By leveraging grain proteins as the fundamental matrix and incorporating other natural components, UNCAGED’s bioleather mimics the fibril structure of collagen to provide the performance of animal leather. The company’s platform offers the tunability to generate materials exhibiting various mechanical and aesthetic properties, fitting for multiple end-use applications.
For more information, please visit www.UncagedInnovations.com. Follow Uncaged on Instagram at Instagram.com/UncagedInnovations.com.
About InMotion Ventures
InMotion Ventures is the Corporate Venture Capital arm of JLR, and a core component of the business’ Open Innovation strategy. The fund invests in startups from seed stage to series B across electrification, connectivity, digital services, intelligent enterprise, sustainability, talent, and the metaverse. Notable past investments include Lyft (exited in 2019), Ascend Elements, Circulor, Envisics, and Bumper. To find out more about InMotion Ventures: https://www.inmotionventures.com/.
JLR’s Reimagine strategy delivers a sustainability-rich vision of modern luxury by design. We are transforming our business to become carbon net zero across our supply chain, products, and operations by 2039. We have set a roadmap to reduce emissions across our operations and value chains by 2030 through approved, science-based targets. Electrification is central to this strategy. Before the decade’s end, our Range Rover, Discovery, and Defender collections will each have a pure electric model, while Jaguar will be entirely electric.
At heart, we are a British company, with two design and engineering sites, three vehicle manufacturing facilities, an engine manufacturing centre, and a battery assembly centre in the UK. We also have vehicle plants in China, Brazil, India, Austria, and Slovakia, as well as seven technology hubs across the globe.
JLR is a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Motors Limited, part of Tata Sons.
“We are excited to support UNCAGED Innovations and its vision for the future of biomaterials,” said Mike Smeed, Managing Director of InMotion Ventures.