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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

VEGANMAT - Bacterial cellulose-based vegan material

Vegan materials have become more and more popular as an alternative to animal-based material products.

Sectors covered
Technology innovation in footwear & leather
Innovation priority
Smart, high-performance materials


Vegan materials have become more and more popular as an alternative to animal-based material products. Several plastic-based or plant-based vegan materials have been developed, but these have a number of limitations: plastic-based materials are not sustainable and lead to environmental concerns, whereas possibilities for the manufacture of plant-based materials are often restricted due to the limited availability of the waste fraction that is used as raw material.

In this context, DARWIN (a microbial biotechnology SME) and HOSBO (an SME from the textile, clothing, leather and footwear [TCLF] sector) have come together to develop a novel vegan material that is based on bacterial cellulose. DARWIN, the technology provider of this partnership, has previously carried out laboratory-scale research into this novel material, and this project aims to further develop this technology and transfer it to HOSBO.

Darwin Bioprospecting Excellence S.L. (DARWIN) is a Spanish biotechnology SME that focuses on microbial bioprospecting – the search for novel microorganisms with biological activities of interest for a variety of industrial needs, including fermentation starters, probiotics for human and animal health, microbial consortia for bioremediation or biodegradation of toxic compounds and production of novel biomaterials.

Hijos de Oscar Botella Sempere S.L. (HOSBO) is a TCLF SME that produces goat and cow leather for cutting and lining. HOSBO’s team of professionals presents two annual collections (spring-summer and autumn-winter) that include not only classical leathers, but also the latest trends as regards colour, prints and combinations of materials.


The objectives of VEGANMAT are:

  1. to design and optimise a standard unit and protocol for the industrial production and downstream treatment of bacterial cellulose with a view to its application in the TCLF sector;
  2. to perform techno-economic and environmental assessments of this novel manufacturing process; and
  3. to design, manufacture and test three minimum viable products (MVPs) based on this novel material.

Outcome of ELIIT project support

Impact (to date)

To date, the main impact concerns the improvement of the technology so that it meets the needs of the TCLF sector in terms of physical and mechanical characteristics.

The expected longer-term impacts of the project are:

  • for DARWIN: to recover its investment in the development of the technology and to include the TCLF sector in its portfolio of microbial applications;
  • for HOSBO: to include a vegan alternative to leather in its catalogue, allowing it to satisfy the needs of a larger number of clients, as well as to increase job opportunities and improve its overall financial performance.


SME: Hijos de Oscar Botella Sempere S.L.

Country: Spain
More information: company website, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn

Technical provider: Darwin Bioprospecting Excellence S.L.

Country: Spain
Year of creation: 2016
More information: company website, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn