A biomanufacturing pioneer, Andras Forgacs is the co-founder and chief executive of Modern Meadow, a venture-backed biotech start-up that has managed to biofabricate a material inspired by leather, but without animals, attracting the interest of major players in the global leather goods business, which is worth over $100 billion a year.
Forgacs studied politics at Harvard University, and joined McKinsey after earning his MBA at Wharton Business School. His undergraduate studies and experience on Wall Street led to the co-creation of Organovo, a biotech start-up that fabricates human tissue and organs for the testing of new pharmaceutical products with the long-term goal of growing fully-fledged replacement organs. The company, which is now publicly traded, also makes skin models used for cosmetics testing by the likes of L’Oréal, which led Forgacs to create a biofabricated leather-like material.
Launched in Columbia, Missouri, in 2011, Modern Meadow moved to Brooklyn's BioBat incubator in 2014 as part of the StartUp NY program. It is now headquartered in Nutley, NJ with a design and applied research studio New Lab. Forgacs has signed deals with global sports and luxury brands for bio-leather that will be made by culturing biopsied cells and without harming animals. Forgacs believes the company could foster a new kind of biotech sector.
“The toolkit around synthetic biology and biofabrication is becoming so much more powerful, and so much more accessible and affordable, which allows us to tackle consumer challenges beyond medicine,” he told BoF.
As of 2017, Modern Meadow has raised $53.5 million in funding, including a $40 million Series B round in June 2016, led by Horizons Ventures and Iconiq Capital. The company has also attracted a further $33.9 million in grants and tax credits.