Science has been trying for years to grow the perfect sirloin in a petri dish, but animal hides, rather than animal meat, might be a simpler, easier-to-sell product you can harvest in the lab. A company called Modern Meadow could have a full-scale leather production facility up and running within five years, CEO and cofounder Andras Forgacs says.
Modern Meadow received a windfall this summer from PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel to bio-print meat and leather, but the company tells Txchnologist it will focus on leather first. Laboratory leather will use a similar process as lab-grown meat, but it would require far less regulatory approval--and it may be more palatable anyway, Forgacs admits: “There’s much less controversy around using leather that doesn’t involve killing animals.”
Lab-grown leather would also need a shorter tanning process, because it wouldn’t involve removing all the hair and tough outer skin layers.