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Join host Paul Shapiro as he talks with some of the leading start-up entrepreneurs and titans of industry alike using their businesses to help solve the world’s most pressing problems.

Jun 1, 2021

You’ve likely noticed that there’s been an explosion of investment into the animal-free food space, with producers of alt-meat, milk, and eggs advancing weekly. But why isn’t there anything comparable happening in the animal-free materials space?

Sure, we’ve had plastic-based leather alternatives (aka pleather) for a long time, but in terms of products not derived from animals or fossil fuels, what’s out there on the market at scale? Turns out, just not that much. 

Enter the Material Innovation Initiative, a relatively new nonprofit organization started by veterans of the animal welfare and animal-free food space. Their goal: to be the Good Food Institute of animal-free materials, helping to attract investment and entrepreneurial activity to build a new industry of animal-free fur, leather, silk, and more. And we’ve got their CEO Nicole Rawling on this episode to regale us with the importance of building such an industry, and how there’s a massive white space there just waiting to be filled.

So, are you thinking about starting your own company to help animals and the planet? If so, after listening to Nicole, you just may think you’ll have a more open field if you go into alt-materials. With that, let her make the case to you herself. 

Discussed in this episode:

More about Nicole Rawling:

Nicole is an experienced attorney and nonprofit executive. She co-founded the Material Innovation Initiative after identifying the rich potential of the next-gen materials market through her work catapulting plant-based foods into the mainstream. In her previous role as director of international engagement at the Good Food Institute, Nicole worked with key audiences around the world including companies, entrepreneurs, scientists, investors, and government officials to promote the development of alternatives to animal products. Her expertise in the field and in bringing together stakeholders made her a sought after speaker at conferences and high profile meetings in locations like Israel, Estonia, Poland, London, Brazil, India, and across the U.S.