Image by Jesse Gardner

A Collaborative R & D Project

Bio-based Synthetic Leather Alternative
for the Automotive Industry


Off White.png

This Collaborative R & D Project between Farmaissance Innovation, City University of Hong Kong and The Hong Kong Research Institute for Textiles and Apparel is the culmination of a long process of consultation that began firstly with me completing the University of Cambridge Institute of Sustainability (CISL) course - "Business & Climate Change: Towards Net Zero Emissions".


As a Final Assignment the course challenged me to find "My role in the transition" and the Action Plan I created, for which I received a grade of 100%, is now the basis for this R & D Project. Keys to success in the fight for Climate Change Action are Collaboration and Innovation. A pivotal collaborator is the KPMG China Partner for New Economy, who linked us to The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA), who in turn have led us to the research expertise of the Professors, the Scientists and their team from City University of Hong Kong (CityU) and the support of the HKSAR Innovation & Technology Fund (ITF). This has set us on course to bring this Project to life!

The patented technology and the products that we expect to emerge from this research will have widespread commercial impact, creating jobs and inspiring further innovation. More important however will be the positive climate and UN SDG effects - decarbonisation benefits in agricultural production of the raw materials and along supply chains, elimination of toxic chemicals and enhanced product biodegradability at end of use.


Please follow us on this journey for a cleaner, safer planet!


Founder, Farmaissance Innovation and iFarmaissance Brands


"True Circularity comes from reimagining and conceptualising raw materials and products from the very beginning".


- Jennifer Gardner -

Project Summary

Wheat Field

Top four  


Increasing interest in renewable, biodegradable resources that exhibit excellent mechanical properties


Compliance with environmental regulations


Addressing ethical concerns


Utilising biomimetics to transfer design principles found in nature to technical applications

Key Challenges

Key Objective

This Project proposes the development of a hybrid biobased synthetic leather alternative from a base material biofabricated with an input of corn and grains processed by micro-organisms. The aim is to duplicate the advantageous properties of current renewable leather substitutes, such as breathability, aesthetics and comfort but eliminate issues around mounting ethical and environmental concerns - carbon sinks, biodegradability and toxic chemicals.

The principal challenges identified for the development of the hybrid material relate to low biomass yield and product scalability. Most processing currently includes unsustainable materials (30 - 45% biomass content) of product and have poorer physical properties that traditional synthetic leather.

Our Analysis

By concentrating on process, product and cost competitiveness our team is confident of developing a unique new material that will provide a breakthrough innovation in leather substitutes. This Project focusses upon the automotive industry however the CityU professors and the scientists have noted that the research (knowledge) derived from this Project will also be applicable to fashion, home and decorative textiles and upholstery generally.

For the purposes of this Project we are categorising biobased leather materials as “alternative” leather as compared to “real” leather and “artificial” leather, eg. vinyl. Real and artificial leathers are benchmarks for us in terms of assessing the viability and hence competitive advantage of our product.

We have a single processing technology but many product derivatives that are designed to suit various different applications.

No new technologies can yet really claim superiority to nature’s materials, particularly real leather. Centuries of expertise and industrial and artisanal input means that real leather has developed what has been identified as a having the touch of a “noble material” and certain economic benefits reflective of many, many years of adapted industrial engineering. They offer the natural needs and wants of users and consumers with respect to aesthetics, comfort, durability, and price.

High performing manmade artificial materials, based on cheap and polluting fossil fuels, have also raised our expectations of material innovation to encompass properties beyond those offered by nature; super stretch, colour saturation and fastness, performance finishes, extreme durability and so forth.

The challenge for innovators is in understanding deeply what the customer is looking for today and then how to move towards that, acknowledging that the first generation of innovated products will not necessarily be the best; each iteration will bring improvements. The challenge for brands is how to work with innovators on that journey, finding ways to support development so that technical gaps can be closed (or compromises found) in the short term in order to achieve greater success in the long term.

Our Uniqueness


100% Free of toxic or restricted chemicals

Read More
Purple Smoke


Zero soil pollution & Zero water waste

Read More
Hands in the Soil

High Bio

High end-product bio-content and high biodegradability

Read More
Farmer Holding Corn

High Standard

Complete compliance with automotive standards for car seat application, not just aesthetics.

Read More
New Car Seats

Funding & Intellectual Property (IP)


This R & D Project is categorised as a Partnership Research Programme (PRP) to be undertaken by Farmaissance Innovation, and City University of Hong Kong, and managed administratively by The Hong Kong Research  Institute of Textiles & Apparel. Funding of the Project is jointly between Farmaissance Innovation and the HKSAR Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF).


On completion, the Intellectual Property (Technology Patent) will 100% vest in Farmaissance Innovation Holdings Limited.


Our Partners