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Ingvar Helgason

Co-Founder & Chief Executive, VitroLabs Inc

The entrepreneur is growing leather in his laboratory, taking a lead in the biomanufacturing movement.


Ingvar Helgason the founder and chief executive of VitroLabs, a start-up leading the way in the biomanufacturing movement, creating lab-grown leather from cow, ostrich and crocodile cells that is not only indistinguishable from traditional leather, but also ethically made, environmentally friendly and cruelty free. 

Originally from Reykjavik, Iceland, Helgason moved to Copenhagen to study the technical aspects of fashion design, later moving to Paris and then London to gain industry experience. His interest in design led to his first venture, Ostwald Helgason, a fashion brand that he co-founded in 2006 and scaled to distribution in 23 countries worldwide. He went on to co-found Woah, a cloud platform for apparel companies, helping brands and manufacturers speed up processes, reduce waste and improve profitability. Woah was sold in 2018.

Helgason, having gathered knowledge and insight of the fashion industry, saw the opportunity to address the environmental and ethical issues associated with production cycles. In 2016, he co-founded VitroLabs, a venture-backed start-up working on 3D tissue engineering and developing the world’s first fully scalable tissue engineering platform.

VitroLabs is launching its first commercially available leather products in 2019. The company is also developing the world’s first fully scalable tissue engineering platform, which has wide-reaching potential to revolutionise areas such as regenerative medicine, stem-cell therapeutics and robotics.

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What is The BoF 500?

The people shaping the global fashion industry, curated by the editors of The Business of Fashion, based on nominations and on-the-ground intelligence from around the world.

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