16 Sep 2022
Biomaterials start-up Modern Meadow has appointed Catherine Roggero-Lovisi as its chief executive. She took up the role at the start of September, becoming the New Jersey-based company’s third chief executive in 18 months. She was previously its chief operating officer, but worked previously for cosmetics groups L’Oreal and Revlon, and before that for Christian Louboutin. Report by Leatherbiz.
She replaces Anna Bakst as chief executive; Ms Bakst took over as head of the company in April 2021, replacing co-founder Andras Forgacs, just as Modern Meadow completed a new round of funding.
In reports that Modern Meadow shares on its website, business media reported at the time that the new funding round had been led by venture capital groups Key Partners, Astanor Ventures, Horizons Ventures and Cape Capital and had injected $130 million into the company, taking the total funding it has raised since its launch in 2011 to $184 million.
These 2021 reports also suggested that investors had sought the change in leadership to accelerate the scaling up of its biofabrication technology. The appointment now of Ms Roggero-Lovisi suggests the challenges to scaling up the technology continue. Mr Forgacs and Ms Bakst are both still members of the company’s board. Anna Bakst is executive chairman and will continue to pursue “strategic ventures” for the company.
Its technology platform uses DNA editing tools to engineer specialised collagen-producing yeast cells. In 2017, it announced that it was able to use this technology to produce a laboratory-grown collagen product that could be made into a substitute for leather. It called this material Zoa. The buzz about Zoa that it felt it had generated five years ago was short-lived.
Modern Meadow still talks about creating materials that can serve as an alternative to leather and, in 2021, it set up a new joint venture with Italian woven fabrics specialist Limonta, calling it BioFabbrica. Its more recent announcements have referred to producing material from “a miscible blend of plant-based protein and bio-based polymer”.