Natural Fiber Welding, Inc. (NFW) today announced that they have closed $15M in new funding, accelerating growth of the company to meet the demand of MIRUM® and CLARUS® product lines. The round was led by The Community Development Venture Capital Alliance (CDVCA), with participation by BMW i Ventures, Prairie Crest Capital, Ethos, For Good Ventures, and Evolution VC Partners.
With this new funding, NFW will continue to scale production to meet the needs of existing partnerships and move into new markets like the automotive industry that need a permanent, sustainable solution to replace a reliance on synthetic materials.
According to a Market Study report synthetic leather materials are estimated to be the largest segment of the automotive upholstery market. With its durability, quality, and tunability, NFW and the company’s patented material MIRUM, are well-suited to displace both animal leather and synthetic leather alternatives with materials that are plastic-free and high-performance.
“With our new manufacturing capabilities, and the support of companies like CDVCA and BMW i Ventures, we are advancing NFW’s mission to eliminate the need for plastics in the shoes we walk in, the upholstery we sit on, and accessories that surround us in our everyday life,” said Dr. Luke Haverhals, CEO and founder of NFW. “The extensibility of our platform and the tunability of NFW materials means that we can serve many customers spanning multiple large, global markets. We are energized daily by the commitment of major brands and companies to partner with NFW as we work to leave the world better than we found it.”
Earlier this year, NFW announced 110,000 square feet of new manufacturing space dedicated to the production of MIRUM, NFW’s high-performance, plant-based leather. NFW currently employs approximately 130 people at their Peoria headquarters and is continuing to grow aggressively in the next twelve months as they quickly scale up commercial manufacturing.
“Right now is an important time to be investing in companies like NFW. Our investments focus on helping underserved communities through business growth, and ensuring people have access to good quality jobs,” said Kerwin Tesdell, President, CDVCA. “We are excited to make an investment that will help NFW succeed in this next chapter.”
Part of the investment was raised in connection with the Federal New Markets Tax Credit program and the Illinois New Markets Development program, economic development tools designed to bring more investment capital to distressed communities in Illinois, with the goal of job creation. With the expansion, NFW anticipates adding as many as 240 new jobs to the Peoria area.
Leveraging the strength and diversity of virgin and recycled plant matter, such as coconut husk, rice hulls, and cork, MIRUM requires no plastic binders or coating. The material is durable and luxurious, making it a well-suited leather alternative.
Through their partnerships, including BMW i Venture’s recent investment, NFW continues to disprove the assumption that in order to perform, textiles in industries like the automotive industry must include petroleum-based products.
“Natural Fiber Welding has developed an innovative process of converting plants into all-natural, 100% recyclable material that mimic all the properties of traditional leather, yarns and foams. Having a scalable, cost-competitive alternative to leather with premium qualities is key to further advancing the decarbonization of the automotive industry,” said Kasper Sage, managing partner at BMW i Ventures.
Along with returning investors such as Prairie Crest Capital and Ethos Capital, joining the round alongside Evolution VC Partners and For Good Ventures are prominent Peoria-based business and investment leaders.
To learn more about Natural Fiber Welding, please visit: https://naturalfiberwelding.co
NFW is a company dedicated to revolutionizing the materials industry. We develop technologies based on the sustainable use of plants and natural fibers for more beautiful durable goods and textiles. Our technologies broaden the spectrum of natural capabilities for application in the textile industry and beyond.
At NFW, our mission is to be stewards of material abundance, helping all of humanity prosper with less conflict over finite resources. We design with efficient supply chains that make use of renewable resources and waste materials. Using NFW’s scientific breakthroughs, we enable natural fibers like cotton, flax, silk, wool, and other abundant renewable resources to interact at the molecular level and unlock performance previously only possible using synthetics from fossil resources.
We believe the best way to serve people is to respect each other while taking care of our shared environments; so we are building scalable technologies designed to have a positive global impact by using less resources to produce.
NFW was founded in 2015 and is based in Peoria, Illinois.