From Lab to Market: Startups Pioneering the Biomaterials Industry

By Saul Menjivar and Faraz Gorji Published on Jul. 14, 2023

While traditional materials like plastic, synthetic threads, and fossil fuels have improved cost, efficiency, and convenience, they’ve seriously damaged our environment, making it critical for us to change. New sustainability innovations like biomaterials - sustainable, biodegradable materials created from biomass - have brought us hope, eliminating negative impacts and delivering positive environmental effects.

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To shape a sustainable future, corporations need to commit to banning single-use plastic and embracing bio-based, reusable, and biodegradable products.

While the availability of biomaterials on a large scale is still developing, the industry is advancing rapidly. By taking this stance, we can expect significant positive changes in waste management, pollution reduction, and combating climate change.

Soon, our economy will transform into a bio-economy, using biotechnology and biomass to produce goods, energy, and services. We can genuinely embrace a circular economy that sustains our needs without harming the environment.

Bio-based materials: Paving the way to a sustainable future

Bio-based materials have come a long way from just being synonymous with plastics. Take, for example, bioponics, an innovative technique replacing chemical fertilizer plants with a sustainable, bacteria-based solution. This new development has developed a photosynthetic bacterium that releases ammonium as an ethically and naturally sourced fertilizer using atmospheric nitrogen. Compared to traditional methods, Bioponics use 12x less energy and doesn’t release any toxins as a by-product of our production methods.

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Why do we need to embrace bio-based and recyclable materials? The primary goal of these bio-based and recyclable materials is to replace non-sustainable materials on the market. Unfortunately, the large population burdens our planet with excessive waste. Most of today's plastics are derived from petroleum, a finite resource whose extraction and utilization contribute to 43% of greenhouse gas emissions, significantly impacting climate change.

Thankfully, manufacturers are now seeking green, sustainable alternatives to meet environmental, regulatory, and societal pressures, reduce emissions, and increase biodegradability.

7 Startups leading the biomaterials industry

Numerous startups within Plug and Play's ecosystem are dedicated to developing additives and coatings that contribute to achieving biodegradability. Bio-based materials are crucial in diverse industries, including natural biomaterials, ceramics, polymeric biomaterials, and metallic biomaterials. These seven startups are some of the many paving the way for a more sustainable future:

Green leafs

Traceless Materials

Traceless Materials is an innovative company that addresses the global challenge of plastic pollution by utilizing agricultural by-products to create a water-insoluble, storage-stable material. This bio-based material provides the beneficial properties of conventional plastics while being truly bio-circular. Unlike traditional (bio)plastics, Traceless Materials' products don’t require additives that harm the environment or human health.

Additionally, its manufacturing process ensures the material is environmentally compostable, reducing plastic pollution. With significant scale-up potential, the company is at the forefront of creating a truly eco-friendly and scalable alternative to traditional plastics.


The company specializes in the development of functional nano-bio materials for high-quality bioplastics. The company aims to provide eco-friendly and sustainable solutions that address carbon emissions and dependency on fossil-based products by producing biodegradable materials from organic waste, specifically husk.

Due to their non-toxicity, ANPoly's nano biomaterials are used not only for composite materials to reinforce and lighten them but also for food packaging and medical plastics.

Intermix Performance Materials

Intermix Performance Materials specializes in polymer additives that facilitate the valorization of mixed plastics at a low cost, resulting in high-quality alloys. Polypropylene, PP, and polyethylene, or PE, constitute approximately two-thirds of post-consumer plastic waste.


However, due to their disparate structures, mixing PP and PE yields substandard plastic mixtures with inadequate strength. Manual separation has been a costly method to enhance the quality of recycled materials. Yet, the performance still falls short of pure PP and PE unless the separation is nearly flawless.

To address this issue, Intermix has developed a pioneering polymer additive. When incorporated into a mixture of PP and PE, this additive enables the blending of these polymers, resulting in a durable polymer alloy comparable in mechanical properties to pure PE and PP samples. Consequently, the arduous and expensive sorting process becomes unnecessary.


Scindo is an innovative cleantech startup that leverages the potential of enzymes to recycle non-recyclable materials. Specifically, they focus on currently challenging plastics to recycle using existing methods.

By converting these plastics into valuable molecules that find application in various industries, Scindo is pivotal in establishing a more circular economy for plastics. Their efforts include developing an alternative to landfills and incineration, thus contributing to sustainability and environmental conservation.

Integrated Lipid Biofuels

Integrated Lipid Biofuels

This company enables the cost-effective production of biopolymers from organic wastes. Although highly desirable and presenting a high market potential, the production of biodegradable bioplastics is currently limited due to the high cost of starch or plant oil as feedstock relative to the low cost of fossil-based feedstock.

ILB’s technology makes it possible to overcome this barrier by use of organic wastes as feedstock and increasing the efficiency of microbial cell factories, thus significantly reducing the production cost while offering an alternative for more sustainable disposal of organic wastes.

Bloom Biorenewables

Bloom Biorenewables is the first company to convert inedible, bio-derived carbons to petroleum analogs with exceptional efficiency. These molecules, typically derived from lignocellulosic biomass, can manufacture a wide range of products, such as plastics, resins, flavors, herbicides, cosmetics, or even pharmaceuticals, without altering their properties. Bloom Biorenewables opens countless routes for multinational companies to innovate responsibly and ensure the maintenance of the wider environment.

Gjenge Makers

The company enables the manufacturing sector to obtain recycled, strong, and durable building materials. Gjenge Makers transforms plastics into sustainable and extremely durable construction materials using machines designed by the founder herself.

The company's platform addresses the prevalent crisis of improper waste management by developing an ecosystem for recycling and upcycling waste, fostering an eco-friendly lifestyle. Their colorful bricks are stronger than concrete and have gained global attention, including recognition from the United Nations.

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