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The German multinational giant and manufacturer of luxury vehicles and motorcycles BMW invested in natural fiber welding through its venture capital company BMW i Ventures. The raised capital will help the sustainable materials company scale its plastic-free leathers and textiles for commercial roll-to-roll production.
Natural Fiber Welding (NFW) founder Luke Haverhals worked as a chemist at the United States Naval Academy. After funding from the US Department of Defense, Haverhals learned how to shape natural fiber structures with near atomic precision.
The company has developed novel technologies to replace petrochemical materials such as synthetic leather and instead manufacture durable, 100% recyclable and cruelty-free products. They are made from botanicals such as hemp, waste cork, coconut, and vegetable oil.
NFW has set itself the goal of commercializing these sustainable alternatives leather, foam and textiles. To do this, it is building a new facility with an area of more than 10,000 square meters. It starts with the production of Mirum, its vegetable leather.
In the fashion industry, brands can send patterned textiles to NFW. These can be processed into animal-free leather products and colored with non-toxic mineral pigments and vegetable dyes.
Haverhals said in a press release: “BMW i Ventures’ commitment to high-performing companies in the manufacturing and transportation sectors makes them an excellent investor and partner for NFW. We are honored to have your support as we continue to expand into new markets such as the automotive industry, where all-natural high-performance materials can have a major impact on decarbonization and the creation of a truly sustainable future. “
We are honored to have the support of BMW i Ventures as we continue to expand into new markets such as automobiles, where all-natural high-performance materials can have a huge impact on decarbonizing and creating a truly sustainable future
Luke Haverhals, Founder and CEO, NFW
Global investor support
The investment made through BMW i Ventures will help the company scale its production from batch processing its materials to full commercial capacity.
Kasper Sage, managing partner of BMW i Ventures, said: “Natural Fiber Welding has developed an innovative process for converting plants into purely natural, 100% recyclable material that mimics all the properties of traditional leather, yarn and foam. Having a scalable, cost-effective alternative to premium quality leather is the key to driving the decarbonization of the automotive industry further. “
BMW i Ventures invests in startups that are innovative in areas such as transportation, supply chain and sustainability. It invests in all phases with a special focus on the A / B series and has in the past supported the robotics company Bright Machines, the dietary supplement company Blackmore, the electrical company Proterra and the recycling service PureCycle.
In addition to investing in NFW, the BMW Group announced that it will work with the company to achieve its own sustainability goals. For example, the group would like to reduce its CO2 emissions in its entire supply chain and is therefore looking for recyclable materials with a lower CO2 footprint.
Last year, US luxury fashion giant Ralph Lauren also invested in NFW to use the company’s technology to develop sustainable clothing.
According to the Circular Fashion Summit, the circular fashion industry is projected to grow from $ 3 trillion to $ 5 trillion. In the USA in particular, there is a growing preference for cruelty-free leather. 55% of Americans choose cruelty-free leather because animal welfare is a top priority for these consumers.
Read: This French startup turns bananas and mangoes into vegan leather
Mission statement courtesy of BMW.