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Biotech company MycoWorks begins production at the world’s first commercial-scale Fine mycelium™ plant in Union, SC

A building with a lawn.

Courtesy of UpstateBiz SC

Biotechnology company MycoWorks begins production at its manufacturing facility in Union, S.C. The company is set to grow millions of square feet of its leather-alternative material produced with the company’s proprietary technology, Fine Mycelium™. This patented technology produces Reishi™, a biomaterial with hand-feel, strength and durability – on par with calfskin leather, the industry gold standard.

With partners including Hermès and General Motors, MycoWorks’ progression into commercial-scale manufacturing is a sign of maturation for the biomaterials industry. There are serious challenges facing the $164 billion leather market and $28 billion luxury leather market such as supply chain constraints and inferior product alternatives. Since 2010, demand for luxury leather increased 251 percent, while high-end hide production declined by 22 percent due to falling beef and dairy consumption. MycoWorks, and its hallmark material Reishi™, are answering these challenges with the world’s first full-scale alternative leather factory, a revolution in the production of high-quality natural materials for the luxury industry.

The opening of the 136,000 sq. ft. factory also marks the world’s largest mycelium material operation, a major step for the use of mycelium– the root structure of mushrooms. Starting first with leather, MycoWorks’ Fine Mycelium™ technology can later be expanded into other applications.

MycoWorks’ facility uses state of the art robotics, digital analytics, and AI resources to achieve high-caliber quality and supply chain systems for the company’s customers in an entirely new manufacturing process. Using automated guided robots (AGRs), the company has automated 80% of its process, enabling MycoWorks’ to reduce handling costs but maintain expert interactions where they are critical for quality assurance, achieving both high quality and low-cost production.

For the leather industry, MycoWorks’ Union, S.C. facility is a breakthrough in supply chain management, providing full predictability, transparency, and provenance of high-quality natural materials while also reducing waste.

Luxury fashion and automotive brands have eagerly awaited this opening to move collection design from prototyping and capsules to full-scale adoption. To date, Fine Mycelium™ has already been applied with great success to product categories from luxury handbags and footwear to vehicle interiors and home furnishings.

For Union, S.C.—population 30,000— MycoWorks’ investment is reshoring production from an industry that primarily sources from Europe. Union has had a long history in textile manufacturing, and as the region is already home to leading automotive manufacturers, Fine Mycelium™ will allow other industries in the area and globally to closely collaborate on development.

This centralization of biotechnology and manufacturing has long been a goal of South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, a dedicated supporter of bringing cutting-edge science and technology to the state.

About MycoWorks

In 2013, co-founders Philip Ross and Sophia Wang formed MycoWorks, a San Francisco-based biomaterials company dedicated to bringing new mycelium-grown materials to the world. MycoWorks’ patented Fine Mycelium™ technology, an advanced manufacturing platform and breakthrough in materials science, engineers mycelium during growth to form proprietary, interlocking cellular structures for unparalleled beauty, handfeel, strength and durability. The company’s flagship material- Reishi™ – is a new category of material for the world’s best luxury brands. For more information, please visit mycoworks.com and madewithreishi.com.

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Tamia Sumpter

Tamia is a driven senior undergraduate Bioengineering student currently enrolled at Clemson University. With a strong foundation in her field, she has honed her skills through hands-on experience in research and development at Eli Lilly & Company. During her time in the ADME department, Tamia contributed significantly by working on siRNAs and their applications in finding In Vitro-In Vivo Correlation (IVIVC). Looking ahead, Tamia has set her sights on a promising career in law. She aspires to specialize in Intellectual Property Law, with a particular focus on serving as in-house counsel for leading medical device or pharmaceutical companies. Her enthusiasm for this role is palpable as she prepares to embark on her legal journey! She is also a proud member of the Omicron Phi chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., PEER Mentor for Clemson PEER/WiSE, and currently serves as the President of Clemson Bioengineering Organization (CBO). With her unique blend of scientific knowledge and legal interests, Tamia is poised to make a meaningful impact in the healthcare and life sciences industries.