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Kanpur: Phool.Co, backed by IIT-Kanpur, has awarded the BIRAC Innovator Award 2021 for making 'Fleather', a bio alternative to animal leather.

Fleather is made from temple flowers and farm waste while Phool is a brand owned by Kanpur Flowercycling Pvt. Ltd that was founded in 2017.

Incubated at Startup Incubation and Innovation Centre (SIIC) at IIT-Kanpur, Phool developed a biomaterial that performs almost like leather.

Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) is a non-profit set up by the department of Biotechnology (DBT), government of India that aims to empower the emerging biotech enterprises to undertake strategic research and innovation, addressing nationally-relevant product development needs.

The selection for BIRAC Innovation Award was made by an eminent jury to offer recognition to the most significant contributors to research-based scientific innovations.

Fleather is built on the principles of biomimicry and can be customized for aesthetic expression, flexibility, density, and strength.

The process of making Fleather is ultra-sustainable, not only cutting down several traditional downstream leather tanning processes but also helping provide better job opportunities to women from the marginalised sections of society.

Professor Abhay Karandikar director, IIT Kanpur said: "I am happy that Phool has been recognized for its work. It is not only a great business but also a great workplace providing livelihood to more than 100 women from the marginalized section of the society."

Ankit Agarwal, founder, Phool.Co, said: "We humans love leather. It delivers status, luxury and comfort. But leather is a co-product of the livestock industry that produces around 18 per cent of the total earth's greenhouse emission. Fleather can perform like leather while significantly cutting down the emission and reusing temple and farm waste."

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