26 August 2022

Hide Biotech

Introducing a leader in sustainable fashion.

Company Profile

Hide Biotech is a Cambridge-based fast-growing startup developing disruptive sustainable biomaterials inspired by leather.

  • Date Formed: 2019
  • No. of Employees: 6
  • Website: hidebiotech.com
  • Address: Bio-Innovation Centre, 25 Cambridge Science Park Rd, Cambridge CB4 0FW
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In Summary…

Fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Responsible for 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the processes involved in the production of our clothing are a threat to the future of the planet.

Hide Biotech believes in a different way. 

Developers of sustainable biomaterials inspired by leather, Hide has a very simple mission:

[To be] dedicated to revolutionary technology advancement in finding and building ever more sustainable biomaterials without any compromises on quality or price.

Saving our hides

As I sit at my desk contemplating how to pen this piece about the use of leather in the fashion industry, I look down at the large amounts of the material sitting so comfortably upon my person. From the watch strap adorning my left wrist to the belt around my waist and the brogues on my feet, it’s fair to say the appearance of leather is de rigueur in my office wardrobe. Around me, my messenger bag holds my leather-bound notebook – a third-year anniversary gift from my wife – while a leather desk chair supports my body.

One of humankind’s earliest discoveries, man has been wearing animal hides for warmth since prehistoric times. But its use is far more than mere function. Back in ancient Greece, the locals loved their leather sandals, so much so they’re still worn by surviving depictions of the gods today. Later, Romans would use advanced techniques to develop their armour. Tall leather boots still remind us of lasso-spinning cowboys from the westerns, while the bomber jacket is as cool in the ’20s as it was warming for pilots during both world wars.

All of which paint leather in a pretty positive light. And it is undoubtedly a beautiful material. But, given what we now know of the negative impacts of leather production on the environment, is it not the time to switch to more sustainable alternatives?

Enter Susannah Evans and Yudi Ding, co-founders of biotech startup, Hide Biotech.

Using sustainable material from extracted marine collagen (that’s fishing industry waste to you or me) Hide has developed a leather alternative that feels like the real thing. Only, their ‘leather’ saves up to 10 times the water consumption of traditional processes and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90%.

Non-plastic and non-polluting, this collagen-based leather substitute is sustainable and highly scalable. In short, it’s a real game-changer.

We believe Hide Biotech has the potential to disrupt the fashion industry using an environmentally friendly and ethical approach which will change our world for the better.
-JDJ Creative

Hide Biotech – the early days

Both PhD graduates from the University of Cambridge – Susannah from the Institute for manufacturing, Yudi from the Department of Chemistry – Evans and Ding met at a 3-month EnterpriseTECH programme run by the Judge Business School in 2019.

It was from here that their partnership blossomed.

Writing on the Entrepreneurship Centre Blog, Evans says of their first meeting: “We bonded over the well-curated post-lecture networking, where a smattering of wine loosened up our interactions.”

Combining their passion for sustainability, with Yudi’s science background, they created the core concept of Hide Biotech.

Now four years on, Hide operates out of labs on Cambridge’s Science Park, has secured Early Stage VC funding and has a pipeline of famous luxury brands testing the project.

Evans left the company in 2020, but Ding has continued on a pace, partnering with the accelerator Entrepreneur First, and most recently the Australian-American early-stage venture fund, ReGen Ventures.

Speaking to the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, Yudi said: “Our vision is to become the go-to brand for anyone who wants to use sustainable leather-like materials. At our current phase, we continue to focus on R&D and sample development. We are also engaging with our partners and industry experts to help accelerate the go-to-market process.”

How Hide Biotech are changing the world

Despite its pleasing aesthetics, leather – or more pertinently, the leather production process – is catastrophically bad for the environment. That’s in terms of deforestation and biodiversity loss, greenhouse gas emissions and energy and water use.

Hide states on its website that the fashion and textile industry is responsible for 10-15% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Through their bio-material, they are hoping to make it a more sustainable practice, without compromising on quality.

They do this by building a biomaterial from the extracted marine collagen mentioned earlier. As leather is 90% collagen – many of its properties come from this protein – this new biomaterial has the same leather properties we all know and love. But, despite looking and feeling like leather, its production is more environmentally friendly, using less water, generating less waste and needing less land use.

It’s also cow-free, making it an altogether more ethical product.

Due to their patented technologies, Hide can also produce highly customisable materials, in terms of finish, thickness, shape and size. And because they’re creating this material from the bottom up, dyes can be introduced sooner in the process, improving colour fastness and greatly reducing the amount of dye needed – just another way their product is more environmentally friendly than traditional methods.

What does this mean for the future?

Hide’s collagen-derived leather alternative has the potential to disrupt the fashion industry. If successful, it could see the end of cattle-based leather products. This could be revolutionary. Biomaterial-based leather production would see reduced GHG emissions, water consumption and waste. This environmentally friendly and ethical approach seems a logical next step in the fight against fast fashion and the desire for sustainability. And it’s one, no doubt, that’ll be coming to an office near you very soon.

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Get in touch

We’re always keen to hear from like-minded people with passion and purpose,
so let’s see if together we can bring your vision to life.