GM Ventures, the automaker’s investment arm, recently formed a long-term agreement with biotechnology company MycoWorks to co-develop Finer Mycelium, a sustainable material for use in automotive interiors.
Fine Mycelium technology leverages mycelium, the renewable root structure of mushrooms, to create a range of customizable leather alternatives said to “match the performance of the highest quality animal leather with lower environmental impact.”
The materials are both animal-free and chrome-free, and exhibit high strength at low thicknesses, thus providing a possible method of enhancing a vehicle’s efficiency and reducing overall weight while still meeting the required performance, aesthetic, and environmental standards. The use of these materials would also further align with GM’s vision of zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion.
“Our strategic investment in MycoWorks aims to advance the development of sustainable automotive materials,” said managing director of GM Ventures, Wade Sheffer. “This collaboration will help facilitate R and D efforts and build more sustainable alternatives for our designers.”
MycoWorks broke ground on its first full-scale production facility in August following a $125 million Series C funding round. The new facility will provide the means to mass-produce Fine Mycelium, rolling out upwards of several million square feet of the material annually. MycoWorks was founded in 2013 and is based in San Francisco, California.
“Working with General Motors to introduce Fine Mycelium to the automotive industry is an enormous step forward in the global new materials revolution,” said the CEO of MycoWorks, Matt Scullin. “MycoWorks’s collaboration with GM is a first for us outside of the fashion industry, demonstrating the enormous potential and applications for Fine Mycelium.”
In further GM Venture news, the investment arm recently participated in Series A funding for Wind Catching Systems, a Norway-based startup that develops floating offshore wind-power technology. Wind Catching Systems and GM also announced a strategic agreement to collaborate on technology development, project execution, offshore wind policy, and the advancement of sustainable energy technology.