Jun 07, 2023
Galy's platform consists of cotton, but the company says its technology can apply to almost anything ... [+] that comes from a plant. Boston startup Galy has inked a deal with Japanese manufacturer
Galy's platform consists of cotton, but the company says its technology can apply to almost anything ... [+] that comes from a plant.
Boston startup Galy has inked a deal with Japanese manufacturer Suzuran Medical Inc. to use the startup’s lab-grown cotton in its products.
Suzuran says it plans to use thousands of tons a year of Galy’s “Literally Cotton” fibers as part of a 10-year, $50 million partnership.
“It’s huge,” says Luciano Bueno, Galy’s founder and CEO. “It’s the first-time lab-grown cotton will enter any market worldwide.”
Suzuran will use the Galy cotton—grown from cells instead of plants—in products such as cosmetic cotton and cotton sheets, and medical products such as gauze and absorbent cotton for medical and consumer use, according to Yasuhiro Kunieda, company president.
Suzuran has been working with Galy since 2021, when they completed a proof-of concept evaluating the fibers. Galy was founded in 2019 as a cellular agriculture startup.
To make the Galy cotton, a team collects samples from a plant and harvests its cells. The cells are grown in bioreactor or fermentation vessels in a cell culture process similar to beer brewing. The final product is dried and harvested, with minimized water, land and energy use, Galy says.
A bioreactor used in the process
The new partnership is described as a 10-year agreement that starts when GALY launches its first commercial facility. The agreement is structured around Suzuran purchasing set quantities of Literally Cotton at a specific price. The fiber produced will hit all of Suzuran’s specs, Bueno says.
Kuineda added: “If we succeed, we will have a means of procuring 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 approves them as safe raw materials.”
The Suzuran president adds that the company will continue to use traditional cotton, since there may be issues with consumer acceptance of the lab-grown variety.
“We believe that the introduction of this technology to the market will aid in solving the problems of climate impact and child labor caused by cotton cultivation. It also has great potential from a business standpoint, and we see it as an innovation that will change the concept of cotton production.”
Galy has facilities in Boston, Massachusetts, and São Paulo, Brazil.
Bueno says: “In terms of future production facilities, our product discovery and scaleup are being developed in parallel—which is very exciting for us as it should help us get to market faster.
“We’re planning to go commercial within the next few years. I don’t want to give precise dates here as we don’t want to create any wrong expectations.”
Climate warming means the future isn’t bright for the traditional cotton industry. One solution has been to breed plants for heat tolerance and resistance to drought.
Cotton 2040, an initiative to create a more sustainable and climate-resilient cotton industry, is bringing together leading international brands and retailers to deal with the issue.
The Suzuran partnership inspires Galy to keep pushing, Bueno says. The startup has seen interest in lab-grown plants across a range of products. He says the technology can be applicable to almost anything that is produced by a plant in the field, from commodities to specialty crops.
“We’ve been working on two other core products–still secret–and have succeeded in creating proof-of-concept for both of them,” Bueno says.
“With all our success in our product development, solidifying our partnership with Suzuran, and the industry interest across products, we’re in a very exciting spot right now.”