SK Networks makes strategic investment in U.S. startup MycoWorks

By Lim Chang-won Posted : January 14, 2022, 12:32 Updated : January 14, 2022, 12:32

[Courtesy of SK Networks]

SEOUL -- SK Networks, a trading and retail arm of South Korea's third-largest conglomerate SK Group, made a strategic investment in MycoWorks, an American startup with a proprietary biotechnology platform that transforms mycelium, the underground root structure of mushrooms, into materials for leather.

SK Networks said it has invested $20 million in MycoWorks by participating in the American company's Series C Round to raise $126 million. It was the largest among strategic investors. The two companies signed a separate contract to collaborate in the expansion of production facilities, the establishment of sales networks, and the development of new materials other than leather.  

MycoWorks, based in Emeryville, California, produces mycelium leather with a patented process that produces the unique cellular structure of its first commercially available product called Reishi. The company's Fine Mycelium biotechnology platform transforms mycelium into materials that rival premium animal-based leathers in look, feel and overall performance.

Fungi are essential for converting biomass into compost, as they decompose feedstock components. Alternatives to polystyrene and plastic packaging can be produced by growing mycelium in agricultural waste. Mycelium has also been used as a material in furniture, bricks, and artificial leather. 

As part of a new group-wide strategy to expand investments in green businesses and technologies, SK Networks paid attention to MycoWorks' sustainability and business competitiveness, saying the investment would help pave the way for nurturing its eco-friendly material business as a new growth model.
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