German luxury automobile maker, BMW has announced an investment in Natural Fiber Welding (NFW) through its venture capital firm, BMW i Ventures.
NFW is one of the leading manufacturers of plastic-free natural alternatives to materials such as leather, textiles and foams. The financing shall help the company to scale from batch processing of the materials to commercial production.
The US-based company has developed novel technologies to replace the conventional petrochemical-based materials and has been successful in enabling natural inputs to be moulded into durable and recyclable leather alternative called Mirum.
This latest investment by BMW i Ventures is also targeted at a partnership between BMW Group and NFW to realise the former’s sustainability goal of reducing CO2 emissions. To achieve this, the company is planning to shift to materials that are either recyclable or come with a lower carbon footprint, while also maintaining premium quality and aesthetics.
“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 de-carbonization of the automotive industry,” observed Kasper Sage, managing partner at BMW i Ventures.
Using this investment, NFW will transition to full commercial capacity and capitalize over its existing momentum to introduce sustainable alternatives to the mainstream market.
“BMW i Ventures’ commitment to high-performance companies across the manufacturing and transportation sector makes them an excellent investor and partner for NFW,” stated Luke Haverhals, founder, and CEO at NFW. “We are honored to have their support as we continue to expand into new markets, like automotive, where all-natural, performance materials can have a huge impact in de-carbonizing and creating a truly sustainable future.”