Gozen secured $3.3 million in a seed funding round, the company announced Wednesday.
The biomaterials company, which produces a leather alternative from microorganisms during fermentation, will use the capital to accelerate its research and development of new materials and to scale production of its existing material, called Lunaform.
The round was led by Happiness Capital and also included participation from Accelr8, Astor Management and SOSV.
The company is targeting the fashion and automotive industries for its product, which was recently used in Balenciaga’s show during Paris Fashion Week. That partnership, which took place over two years, includes the Balenciaga Lunaform maxi bathrobe coat, which was the material’s first use in the fashion industry.
Following the funding round, the company plans to open a facility in Turkey to boost the annual production capacity of its material, Gozen said.
Lunaform forms in a singular material, which the company says is different from plant-based leathers, plant-based leathers that are assembled in layers.
As fashion brands pledge to clean up their leather supply chains, Gozen faces competition in the alternative leather space from other startups. MycoWorks, which makes mushroom-based leather, opened a commercial-scale production plant in South Carolina last month, after raising a $125 million funding round.
But other companies in the alternative leather space have different stories. Bolt Threads, which announced its plans to go public through a special purpose acquisition company merger earlier this month, paused production of its mushroom leather alternative in July as part of a pivot to its b-silk product. B-silk is made from spider silk and is aimed at beauty and personal care products.
"There is a lot of competition now in animal free leather. But I believed that GOZEN's approach could surpass all others in both performance and economics, and we've already demonstrated this by launching our first commercial product – at Fashion Week, no less. We've accomplished in months what it's taken others years to do,” Po Bronson, managing director of SOSV’s early-stage biotech investment program IndieBio, said in the release.