MII’s work is powered by innovation, grounded by experts, and propelled by philanthropy.



The time for great change in the materials industry is now. The world demands it. While we socially distanced in 2020, indentured workers in textile factories continued to work long hours in tight quarters. Billions of animals lived and died for the sake of their skin, fur, and feathers. Microplastics continued to pollute our oceans at an alarming rate. Denmark’s mink population was found to be spreading a mutated version of Covid-19 to humans. Our work is more critical than ever before. 

At the same time, 2020 brought hope and remarkable developments within the materials industry as brands, innovators, and investors raced to meet the challenges of today. MycoWorks closed a $45m Series B round, Ralph Lauren led a $13M round in Natural Fiber Welding, and Bolt Threads announced a partnership with Stella McCartney, Kering, Lululemon, and Adidas. Our team produced first-of-their-kind material technology assessments, and we met with leading global brands across the fashion, automotive, and homegoods industries. With the support of our visionary donors, we grew from a scrappy team of two to a network of nearly 60 team members, expert advisors, and dedicated volunteers. And in just a few short months, we will be hosting our first summit on commercializing bio-based textiles.

Although we could not have foreseen 2020, our vision for the future and our commitment to systemic change is stronger than ever. In this review, we share this vision and how we're making it a reality with the help of supporters like you. 

With gratitude from the entire team at the Material Innovation Initiative, we present our 2020 Year in Review.

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When you donate to MII, you are investing in the only global nonprofit organization creating this ecosystem connecting entrepreneurs, scientists, academics, brands, and retailers in the fashion, automotive, and home goods industries. 

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Your Donation Goes Further with MII

Your contribution to the Material Innovation Initiative goes much further than it would to a larger organization. When you fund MII you’re helping to establish new departments and allowing us to accelerate at the pace necessary to create a true paradigm shift. For context, one year after the Good Food Institute received their initial funding from Open Philanthropy (exactly where MII is today, having just received our $200K grant) they mentioned in retrospect that their work might have benefitted if they’d prioritized recruiting a director of innovation and hiring international staff sooner. 

We must begin now by making these hires to build out our departments in innovation and communications and expanding our international reach so we are able to solve these global challenges. 

The strategy that Nicole Rawling, our executive director, began at GFI only two short years ago, is beginning to pay off in big ways. Singapore is the first country worldwide to approve the sale of cultivated meat and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ate cultivated meat at an event organized by GFI Israel (established by Nicole) and declared: “I have directed the State Secretary Tzahi Braverman to appoint a body to serve these industries in order to connect and oversee all the stakeholders operating in this field. Israel will become a powerhouse for alternative meat and alternative protein.” 

We expect and will deliver the same accomplishments at Material Innovation Initiative through your support. Please see below for more information about our current funding priorities and consider a gift to MII today.



MII is pleased to announce that in Q1 2021, through the support of generous donors, we were able to hire the following key positions in order to build out the critical departments needed for our mission: 


New Hires

Director of Communications

Director of Innovation

Director of Science and Technology 

Director of Brand Engagement

Philanthropy Officer

We have OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) that have been created for all of these, as well as for the remaining key staff positions cited below, which we aim to hire throughout the remainder of the year, as we are able to secure funding. 


The Case for General Support

As of February 15, 2021, MII must raise $750,000 to cover our general operating support for 2021 and provide a runway of 6 months into 2022. While general operating support may not appeal to some, it is the key to our stability and growth. Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) released General Operating Support: A Guide for Trustees, which finds that, despite the evidence that general operating support can help nonprofits increase their impact, “the percentage of funding given as general operating support has not increased over the past decade.” Donors enjoy giving to particular programs and projects which they believe may more clearly represent that their funding is having a direct impact to a cause, yet without the funds to operate on a daily basis, these programs and projects couldn't be realized. 


At MII, less than 15% of our contributed revenue is allocated toward administrative expenses and we have been awarded GuideStar’s 2020 Platinum Seal of Transparency for our exceptional dedication to open and transparent operations. We are honored to be recognized by GuideStar and you can place your trust in MII that we make the best use of your funding.


The Center for Effective Philanthropy recently published an article from the Claneil Foundation, where they outlined the importance of general operating support: "We see the successes that come when organizations feel trusted and have the flexibility to make decisions on how to best fulfill their mission at any given time. Instead of having conversations with grantees about how they can make their next proposal the most compelling, we are able to have conversations that allow us to truly learn what grantees are facing that creates challenges or opens up opportunities for them to fulfill their mission."


Please consider an unrestricted donation to Material Innovation Initiative. We are incredibly grateful to you for your consideration. 


2021 Additional Funding Priorities 


Environmental Scientist

One of the biggest challenges facing the next-gen materials industry is the lack of data on the environmental impact of next-gen and animal-based materials. This lack of data is consistently confirmed by brands, material companies, investors, and other industry nonprofits.


Fashion, automotive, and home goods brands will only switch from animal-based to next-gen materials if we can show that the next-gen materials are more sustainable. Animal-based materials are generally perceived as “natural” and better for the environment because they do not contain plastics. Our initial research, which has been confirmed by the materials companies, shows next-gen materials will be significantly more sustainable. We need hard proof to convince industry to change. 


As the industry is still in a nascent stage and the technology is constantly changing, paying a third-party LCA provider does not make sense long-term as the data will be out of date within a short period of time. As there is a dearth of environmental impact data, this person would also quickly become the leading expert and could lead the international discussion with the media, brands, scientists, and investors. Ideally, this position would be hired in Q2 2021.


For more information, please view our environmental fact sheet


Our policy director will be focused on policy across the globe, establishing a collaborative network to leverage other resources necessary for policy related to label restrictions, tariffs, and government funding of material innovation research. Second only to environmental science, this position is the most needed by next-gen material companies. For example, we wished we had the staff last year to oppose Italy’s ban on the term leather for non-animal based material. Ideally, this position would be hired by the end of 2021. View more information on our policy priorities here


Updated Website: Estimated Cost- $50,000

We developed our current website over a year ago when we needed something to establish a public presence quickly. We used Wix which allows for quick website development. Wix is very limited in functionality. We have since developed significant public information on innovators and additional information we want to share to specific audiences. We need an updated site on a different platform, which does not limit the number of pages we can have so we can share additional information. We also need a site where we can have a website developer create a more interactive interface for example allowing different audiences to navigate to the information for their needs. 



MII will only request philanthropic dollars when we need it. Right now, we need your support to encourage more entrepreneurs and scientists to enter the ecosystem, support the small material innovation start-ups, share critical information about the promise and opportunity of next-gen materials, and create a policy network to oppose the interests of animal-derived material companies who are using their lobbying power to get tax and labelling benefits. Please contribute now. 

Lastly, and of utmost importance, we must continue to fundraise for our core team, the very foundation of our mission in action.

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GuideStar Platinum Seal of Transparency

MII has been awarded the GuideStar’s 2020 Platinum Seal of Transparency for our exceptional dedication to open and transparent operations. We are honored to be recognized by GuideStar and you can place your trust in MII that we make the best use of your funding. 

Make Your Gift Today.


We are also proud to be recognized as a 2020 Top-Rated Nonprofit from GreatNonprofits! This award is given to nonprofits who provide an exceptional professional culture and volunteer experience. As we build a better world, we are starting within our own organization by creating meaningful jobs and a supportive, collaborative work environment.


Transparency in Action

We work with the highest level of transparency and welcome discussion with you as you make your decision to fund the mission of Material Innovation Initiative. We are pleased to share our Strategic Plan, Budget, and Objectives and Key Results with you at any time. 

Thank you in advance for your consideration and for helping to accelerate our mission for human health, animal welfare, and the environment.



On March 31 and April 1, 2021, MII is partnering with Hanson Wade to produce a two-day virtual summit bringing together key decision-makers throughout the materials supply chain. At the event, we will explore challenges and opportunities in scaling bio-based materials for the mass market and showcase the technological advances powering the next wave of sustainable innovation.



Over 4 billion animals and 1 trillion silkworms are killed or used for their fur, skin, or feathers every year. Leather and silk are the most environmentally destructive materials used in the fashion industry. Moving away from animal materials is one of the best things you can do for animals and the environment. Help us save animals and protect the environment by supporting innovation in animal-free and sustainable materials!

I want to join MII’s journey to change the world!