Boston-based startup Galy has signed a deal with Japanese manufacturer Suzuran Medical Inc. to use the startup’s lab-grown cotton in its products.
Suzuran plans to use 3,000 tons of Galy’s “literally cotton” fibers annually through a ten-year, $50 million partnership.
“It’s huge,” says Luciano Bueno, founder and CEO of Galy. “It’s the first time lab-grown cotton has come to market globally.”
According to Yasuhiro Kunieda, the company’s president, Suzuran will use Galy cotton – which is derived from cells rather than plants – in products such as cosmetic cotton and cotton towels, as well as medical products such as gauze and absorbent cotton for medical and consumer purposes.
Suzuran has been working with Galy since 2021 when they completed a proof of concept to evaluate the fibers. Galy was founded in 2019 as a cellular agriculture startup.
To create Galy cotton, a team collects samples from a plant and harvests its cells. The cells are grown in a cell culture process similar to beer brewing in bioreactors or fermentation vessels. The end product is dried and harvested, minimizing the use of water, land and energy, says Galy.
The new partnership is described as a 10-year agreement beginning when GALY opens its first commercial facility. The agreement is based on Suzuran buying specific amounts of literal cotton at a specific price. The fiber produced will meet all of Suzuran’s specifications, says Bueno.
Kuineda added: “If we succeed, we will have the opportunity to source raw materials that are less susceptible to weather and environmental influences in stable quantities and at stable prices, and the idea is very appealing to us if the market accepts it.” recognized as a safe raw material.” Materials.”
Suzuran’s president adds that the company will continue to use traditional cotton, as there may be issues with consumer acceptance of the lab-grown variety.
“We believe bringing this technology to market will help solve the climate impact and child labor issues caused by cotton farming. It also has great potential from a business point of view and we see it as an innovation that will change the concept of cotton production.”
Galy has offices in Boston, Massachusetts and São Paulo, Brazil.
Bueno says: “In terms of future production facilities, our product development and scale-up will be developed in parallel – which is very exciting for us as it should help us get to market faster.”
“We plan to go commercial in the next few years. I don’t want to give any exact dates here because we don’t want to create false expectations.”
Global warming means the future is not bright for the traditional cotton industry. One solution has been to breed plants for heat tolerance and drought resistance.
Cotton 2040, an initiative to create a more sustainable and climate-resilient cotton industry, brings together leading international brands and retailers to address the issue.
The Suzuran partnership inspires Galy to keep pushing forward, says Bueno. The startup has seen interest in lab-grown plants for a range of products. He says the technology is applicable to almost anything a crop produces in the field, from commodities to specialty crops.
“We’ve been working on two other core products — which are still classified — and we’ve managed to create a proof of concept for both,” says Bueno.
“With all our achievements in our product development, the solidification of our partnership with Suzuran and the industry interest in all products, we are in a very exciting situation right now.”