The transformations occurring in the energy, automotive, logistics, manufacturing, and construction industries, in combination with evolving industry 4.0 innovations, drive demand for new materials. The material trends range from solutions for sustainability, lightweighting, 3D printing, and surface engineering, as well as the development of intelligent materials, nano-formulations, and advanced composites with enhanced characteristics.
Further, the widespread adoption of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and data management practices invigorates scientists to explore and develop innovative materials much faster. This accelerates the time-to-market of trending materials from a couple of decades to just a few years. This article was published in August 2020 and updated in August 2023.
Innovation Map outlines the Top 10 Materials Trends & 20 Promising Startups
For this in-depth research on the Top Material Trends & Startups, we analyzed a sample of 2453 global startups & scaleups. This data-driven research provides innovation intelligence that helps you improve strategic decision-making by giving you an overview of emerging technologies in the materials industry. In the Material Industry Innovation Map, you get a comprehensive overview of the innovation trends & startups that impact your company.
Top 10 Materials Industry Trends in 2024
These insights are derived by working with our Big Data & Artificial Intelligence-powered StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, covering 3 790 000+ startups & scaleups globally. As the world’s largest resource for data on emerging companies, the SaaS platform enables you to identify relevant technologies and industry trends quickly & exhaustively.
Tree Map reveals the Impact of the Top 10 Materials Industry Trends
Based on the Materials Innovation Map, the Tree Map below illustrates the impact of the Top 10 advanced materials technologies in 2024. Startups now develop sustainable, responsive, and smart materials that also offer improved physical properties. For example, biodegradable plastics, thermally adaptive fabric, and flexible displays. Novel formulations, including nanomaterials and biomaterials, impart new functionalities to existing materials while expanding the scope of innovation.
Additive manufacturing, advanced composites, and 2D materials also lead to the development of various lightweight materials. Along with materials informatics and management, surface engineering impacts several industries from energy, automotive, and construction, to biotechnology, healthcare, and textiles.
Global Startup Heat Map covers 2453 Materials Startups & Scaleups
The Global Startup Heat Map below highlights the global distribution of the 2453 exemplary startups & scaleups that we analyzed for this research. Created through the StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, the Heat Map reveals that Europe & the US are home to most of these companies while we also observe increased activity in South-East Asia, Australia as well India.
Below, you get to meet 20 out of these 2453 promising startups & scaleups as well as the solutions they develop. These 20 startups were hand-picked based on criteria such as founding year, location, funding raised, and more. Depending on your specific needs, your top picks might look entirely different.
Top 10 Materials Industry Trends in 2024
1. Sustainable Materials
The immense volume of waste generated during the use and production of materials forces governments to draft various environmental regulations. Practically all industries face challenges while rearranging their internal processes from the perspective of materials’ lifecycle.
Companies in the construction, automotive, packaging, and manufacturing sectors are integrating sustainable materials to lower their carbon footprint. Eventually, these efforts aim to lessen the burden of waste on the planet. Sustainable materials also provide a boost for circular systems and allow for the implementation of a circular economy.
MYNUSCo produces Biocompound Materials
Indian material technology startup MYNUSCo intends to assist the automotive, logistics, packaging, hospitality, and consumer goods industries with their sustainability objectives. The startup produces biodegradable and recyclable compounds based on agricultural waste and renewable resources.
Its products contribute to conserving natural deposits and forests while also ensuring scalability and adaptability for existing manufacturing processes.
Rematter makes Sustainable Floor Slabs
Rematter is a Swiss startup that manufactures sustainable floor slabs. They are constructed from a frame of solid timber beams with rammed earth infills and the connections are dry-joined or screwed. This allows for easy disassembly and re-use of components.
The slab material also features high mechanical characteristics like fire resistance and enhanced strength as well as has a lower carbon footprint. Rematter’s slabs enable builders to make sustainable buildings and ensure efficient material recovery at the end of life.
2. Responsive & Smart Materials
In order to comply with the requirements of certain industrial use cases, novel materials currently in development possess application-specific characteristics. Advancements in materials science enable smart materials with programmable properties that behave or respond to stimuli from external factors.
Emerging startups design materials and products with diverse qualities, from thermo-, electro-, and photo-chromism to piezoelectricity, shape memory, self-healing, and phase-change attributes, among other characteristics.
Memetis offers High-Performace Actuators
German startup Memetis creates ultra-compact miniature actuators based on shape memory alloys. The startup enables a memory effect in its materials, which also sustain extreme deformations, and later revert to their original shape.
Its property supports the performance of the actuators even in small or dense installation spaces. Memetis offers solutions for consumer electronics, telecommunications, optical technology, mobility, and industry 4.0.
Sorex Sensors develops Film Bulk Acoustic Resonator (FBAR) Technology
Sorex Sensors is a UK-based startup developing high-sensitivity micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) sensors on silicon wafers using a thin-film piezoelectric material. The startup utilizes FBAR technology to create a piezoelectric effect.
The piezoelectric effect enables the startup to accurately detect temperature and mass changes on a femtogram scale. This allows small-scale devices with low-power requirements to respond to external stimuli. Some use cases of this solution include thin-film metrology as well as gas and particulate monitoring.
Advancements in nanotechnology show that the characteristics of materials at a nanoscale differ from those of their bulk equivalents. The proliferation of nanofibers, nanotubes, allotropes, quantum dots (QD), and other nanomaterials enables an almost infinite source of value addition.
These improved characteristics include a strengthened performance of industrial products, retained at an atomic level. By leveraging nanomaterials, modern companies secure their competitive edge, specifically in the electronics, energy, mobility, and manufacturing sectors.
Nanolumi makes Perovskite Nanocrystals
Singaporean material technology startup Nanolumi intends to overcome the weaknesses of QD technology for electronic displays with its reliable and safe perovskite nanocrystals. The startup combines cadmium-free origin, broad light spectrum coverage, purer color performance, and high-volume mass-production suitability.
Nanolumi’s product also intends to supplant conventional perovskite nanocrystals and QDs for premium electronics.
BNNano provides Enhanced Boron Nitride Nanotubes
The US-based startup BNNano manufactures boron nitride nanotubes with superhydrophobic, high electrical insulation as well as high thermal and mechanical stability characteristics. The startup offers its nanomaterial as powders, master alloys, masterbatches, and custom mixes.
It finds applications in the aerospace, automotive, defense, and textile industries as well as for radiation protection and thermal management.
4. Additive Manufacturing
Emerging additive manufacturing facilities strive to evolve beyond traditional thermoplastics and apply materials that offer greater flexibility, customization, and functionality while producing lesser waste. The progress of 3D printing technologies, in turn, spurs the upgrades in metals, alloys, ceramics, fibers, and their compounds.
3D printing also encourages the appearance of completely new and durable polymer filaments with improved conductance, melting, and chemical resistance, among other properties.
MAT3D offers Composite Polymeric Materials
Italian startup MAT3D is developing new polymeric materials for additive manufacturing that offer strengthened functional attributes. The startup’s materials replace high-performance plastics for metal 3D printing.
Its solutions also include a variety of resins with increased electrical, magnetic, anti-bacterial, and thermo-mechanical properties for industrial markets.
Chromatic 3D Materials manufactures 3D Printed Polyurethanes
US-based startup Chromatic 3D Materials produces a set of durable high-performance polyurethane elastomers for 3D printing, which are simultaneously adaptable and resilient. The startup offers a great degree of customization and compatibility with additives while also ensuring the quality of the final products.
Chromatic 3D Materials’ products cater to the automotive, manufacturing, and consumer goods markets, among others.
Various industries, from aerospace to mobility, search for innovative ways to diminish excess weight and consequently provide superior fuel efficiency and handling. This drives research into materials like aluminum, magnesium, and titanium, as well as high-strength plastics and carbon fiber.
These materials offer industries the option to reduce the environmental and operational burdens arising from their heavier parts. Moreover, lightweighting innovations in the materials industry also provide safety and reliability levels on par with heftier equivalents.
TxV Aero advances Aerospace Composites Manufacturing
The US-based startup TxV Aero designs and engineers custom laminate materials and finished composite parts for applications in commercial aerospace. Using advanced technology, the startup fabricates lightweight thermoplastic assemblies with tailored features, including ply orientation, pad-ups, near-net shapes, and more.
Further, TxV Aero works on retrofit aerospace applications for increasing overall productivity.
Fibratech makes Composite Automotive Wheels
Polish startup Fibratech intends to overcome the lightweighting and performance limitations of aluminum in the mobility sector. It develops hybrid composite-metallic wheels for vehicles, augmented with carbon fiber.
Fibratech’s material attains general mass reduction, stiffness increase, and design customization, compared to widely used forged aluminum wheels.
6. Material Informatics
Big companies today employ a data-driven approach to materials, enhanced by principles of informatics and computational techniques, as well as ML and AI. This allows them to arrange and model materials data in a meticulous manner.
In addition to optimizing the ability to reliably derive scientific insights from complex materials data, informatics also accelerates the timelines for research and development (R&D), saving time and labor.
Kebotix provides a Self-Driving Material Discovery Lab
The US-based startup Kebotix develops a self-driving laboratory solution for materials research to accelerate new materials exploration. The startup leverages big data, AI-based decision-making, dedicated robotics, and a convenient interface to streamline cycles for scientists.
Kebotix is particularly interested in tackling challenges in sustainability, public health, and hazardous industrial substances.
Matelligence enables AI-Based Materials Screening
Canadian startup Matelligence provides material science experts with data-driven tools for materials discovery. Its solution comprises computational techniques with patented AI algorithms to lower the number of required scientific experiments and expedite screening procedures.
Matellligence’s platform primarily targets clean energy, electronics, and manufacturing, among other sectors.
7. Advanced Composites
The rapid increase in the number of industrial applications also results in the development of a variety of composite or hybrid materials. In pursuit of improving performance and regulatory compliance as well as reducing costs, emerging startups innovate within resins, fibers, substrates, matrices, and finishes to build custom composites.
These composite solutions provide advanced and user-specific applications, primarily for the infrastructure, energy, industry 4.0, and mobility markets.
AMP Industrial offers Continuous-Fiber Composites For Propellers
The US-based startup AMP Industrial fabricates advanced composites for unmanned aerial systems (UAS). The startup leverages unidirectional continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastics (CFR-TP) to make its composites.
They feature a high strength-to-weight ratio and material toughness, as well as support customizable materials design for high-performance applications.
ARCEON creates High-Temperature Resistant Composites (HTRC)
Dutch startup ARCEON creates innovative high-temperature resistant composites for satellites, rockets, and engine parts. Its products withstand temperatures exceeding 1000 degrees Celsius, retain a low coefficient of thermal expansion, contain lightweight materials, and also reinforce mechanical robustness and durability.
8. Graphene & 2D Materials
Breakthroughs in nanotechnology allow materials science companies to configure pathways for 2D, or single-layer, materials. Possessing inherent thermal conductivity and mechanical strength, 2D materials endow industrial applications with enhanced capabilities. However, a majority of 2D materials, such as germanene, silicene, stanene, and phosphorene, are still under development, excluding graphene.
As the first 2D material successfully commercialized, graphene improves tensile strength, intra-sheet strength, surface durability, electron mobility, flexibility, and thermal resistance. The sectors utilizing graphene include electronic displays, supercapacitors, automotive, construction paints, and plastic manufacturing.
Ionic Industries makes Graphene Materials
Australian startup Ionic Industries aspires to bridge the gap between graphene research and developing its commercial applications. The startup incorporates expertise and patented processes of graphene and graphene oxide manufacturing. Ionic Industries specializes in graphene additives for water treatment and nanofiltration, as well as for energy storage.
Carbon Waters offers Graphene Dispersions
French startup Carbon Waters focuses on liquid graphene applications for a diverse range of markets. The startup’s graphene dispersions provide barrier coatings, lubrication, and anti-corrosion properties for industrial surfaces and mechanisms.
In addition, the solution improves thermal management for electronics and semiconductors as well as electrical conductivity for manufacturing and consumer devices.
9. Surface Engineering
Exposed to continuous wear and tear, corrosion, UV rays, and other harmful factors, industrial surfaces require coatings that demonstrate improved durability. This is essential for protecting automotive, industrial, agricultural, marine, and manufacturing assets, as well as for increasing productivity.
Besides, engineering innovations offer the possibility to grant surfaces the properties of hydrophobicity and omniphobicity, self-cleaning, and smoothing. Following the COVID-19 outbreak, surface engineers work to undertake efforts to master antimicrobials for more reliable protection in both industrial and non-industrial sites.
SolCold develops Anti-Stokes Fluorescence Technology
Israeli startup SolCold develops a surface modification solution based on a nano filter and an active cooling paint. Using anti-stokes fluorescence technology, the startup transforms heat and radiation from the sun into a low-cost cooling system.
The startup’s technology creates a reverse relationship between solar activity and heat transfer. This solution caters to the transportation, construction, agriculture, and textile industries.
OPUS Materials offers Bespoke Material Technology
UK-based startup OPUS Materials engineers innovative anti-soiling and self-cleaning coatings for the aerospace, mobility, marine, and renewable energy industries. The startup’s solution improves fuel consumption and airflow, reduces corrosion, and optimizes material efficiency.
Additionally, OPUS Materials allows for creating coating materials by design and also supports the establishment of corresponding supply chains.
10. Materials Management 4.0
Industry 4.0 is inducing the implementation of its practices in materials management, handling, and processing. Spanning autonomous mining and advanced automated fabrication to robotic manipulations and cloud computing, the materials sector is being rapidly digitized and interconnected.
As a result, the development of new materials comes in parallel with their industrial adaptation through the fourth generation of industrial technologies.
Current SCM makes Material Management Software
Current SCM is a Canadian startup that develops material management software. It allows businesses to create virtual warehouses to easily store and track materials as well as leverage real-time inventory data. It also enables procurement teams to identify over and under scenarios and split orders based on current demand.
Further, the software provides a centralized spot for companies to track vendor information, validate order status, and material receiving. The startup’s software thus centralizes materials management by combining materials allocation, inventory tracking, material release and receiving, and grouping. This saves time and increases efficiency for industries like construction, energy, and agriculture.
Multiscale Technologies enables AI-powered Materials Innovation
Multiscale Technologies is a US-based startup that advances AI-powered materials innovation. The startup’s platform combines generative AI and a proprietary knowledge system for inverse materials design. This way, it enables high-throughput measurements with tiny samples.
The platform thus enables material manufacturers and researchers to reduce time to market, maximize cost savings, increase quality control, and enhance quality assurance. This way, it accelerates material design and optimizes manufacturing.
Discover all Materials Technologies & Startups
Rapid advancements in materials science further accelerate research and experimentation while enhancing materials’ sustainability, lightweighting, nanomolecular, and programmable qualities. In turn, early adopters of materials trends in aerospace, automotive, manufacturing, energy, and packaging, reap the benefits of emerging innovations. It is worth identifying materials innovations, considering the wide-ranging applications of new materials in industrial, commercial, and also household products.
The Materials Industry Trends & Startups outlined in this report only scratch the surface of trends that we identified during our in-depth research. Among others, sustainable and smart materials will transform the sector as we know it today. Identifying new opportunities and emerging technologies to implement into your business early on goes a long way in gaining a competitive advantage. Get in touch to easily and exhaustively scout relevant technologies & startups that matter to you.