NFW chemists Luke Haverhals and Aaron Amstutz have won the prestigious Intellectual Property Owners Education Foundation’s (IPOEF) Inventor of the Year award for 2022. NFW joins a small and exclusive class of IPOEF Inventor of the Year award recipients that includes CRISPR-CAS9 inventors and developers of the mRNA technology used in COVID-19 vaccines.
NFW founder and Chief Executive Officer Haverhals and Chief Technology Officer Amstutz are being recognized as pioneers in sustainability for leading innovations that simultaneously combat global climate and pollution crises through category-defining, plastic-free materials. NFW has previously been named one of C&EN’s 10 Startups to Watch, a Most Innovative Company by Fast Company, a winner of the Microfiber Innovation Challenge by Conservation X Labs, and a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum.
Major global brands including Ralph Lauren, Richemont/IWC, Pangaia, and many others are in-market with NFW’s ecosystem of naturally circular materials, which includes: CLARUS® performance fabrics, MIRUM® leather-alternatives, PLIANT™ molded composites, and TUNERA™ foams. NFW’s IP portfolio enables global brands to manufacture circular apparel, footwear, bags, accessories, upholstery, and even automotive interiors with naturally circular design for the first time — drawing directly from abundant renewable inputs and circumventing expensive and environmentally damaging fossil resource infrastructure.
In April, NFW closed a $85 million Series B to scale production of its high-performance, all-natural, circular materials. The round was backed by Evolution VC Partners, Tattarang, Lewis & Clark AgriFood, Collaborative Fund, AiiM Partners, Engine No.1, Raga Partners, Tidal Impact, Scrum Ventures, Gaingels, BMW i Ventures, Ralph Lauren, Advantage Capital, and Central Illinois Angels.
Haverhals spent his childhood on a farm in Iowa, which spurred his desire to found NFW and impact sustainability. “People who grow up on a family farm, they live on the land. They drink the water. You’re very aware that where you’re living and what you’re doing in the environment can affect you,” he said. “The NFW team, working closely with our partners at Hamilton IP Law, have built an incredible IP position that is a new industry paradigm for manufacturing materials from natural nutrients. NFW directly molds functional composite materials from renewable plants that grow at massive scale. This means NFW technologies tap the most abundant solar powered carbon sequestration and materials production system known: photosynthesis. Because it leverages photosynthesis, NFW's material ecosystem is extremely capital efficient and globally scalable.”
Haverhals will be appearing as a guest on the September 21st episode of IPOEF’s Stroke of Genius® podcast, where he gives and in-depth interview on his vision for a sustainable future and how intellectual property protections made it possible. The Inventor of the Year award will be presented at the 2022 IPOEF Awards on December 7 at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. For tickets and information, visit IPOEF.org.